SCHS Seniors Get Workforce Prep
The entire Sand Creek High School senior class had job interviews last week.
English teachers Rhonda Chozinski and Miriah Grabow decided that seniors needed some practical writing lessons, which included a resume.
“Everything I wish my daughter would have gotten from her English class as a senior is part of what we are doing,” Grabow said.
The teachers, with the help of Kelsey Grimaldo, D49’s Choice and Success Manager with Applied and Advanced Learning, coordinated about 50 businesses and organizations to participate in mock interviews and to look at the students’ resumes.
The seniors sat in groups of twos and threes as they were interviewed by human resource representatives from the likes of Phil Long Ford, Microchip, El Paso County and even D49’s human resource staff.
“They get to have the experience of interviewing, talking to other people and communicating their ideas,” Chozinski said. “This is providing them with an idea of what they are going to face once they get outside of these doors.”
“We are bringing industry professionals to them to have an authentic interview process to help build their confidence and to get familiar with interviewing,” Grimaldo said. “Some of these students have never interviewed for a job. We decided to put them in a group, so they can hear the answers their fellow students give. They get feedback from their peers and the person interviewing them.”
“It’s important that students have formal preparation in high school, so that they are ready for the next steps in their journey after graduation,” said Amy Sanchez-Martinez, SCHS Campus Director. “This is incredibly relevant and real life learning.”
Both the interviewers and the students were instructed that it was OK to stop the interview in the middle and to give them pointers or ask questions, so that they know how to best answer the job questions when it comes to a real interview.
Sanchez-Martinez was watching one interview session, when the question of volunteering came up. The student said they didn’t have volunteer experience. She quickly bent over and asked about all the hours the student spends helping in the front office each week. It was a lightbulb moment for the student, as he was thinking the question referred to non-profit organizations and formal volunteering. He took a moment and reworked his answer to include his duties as a volunteer at school.
The interviewers were provided a list of questions to ask, but also given the freedom to ask their own questions that might be more relevant to their industry. That was important because some of the businesses and organizations were actually looking to hire, Grimaldo said.
Brandy Larson, D49 Human Resources Staffing Specialist, helped with the project by taking part as an interviewer. “I thought it was great. It is an awesome way for the kids to get that experience, especially for the young lady I was with. She had never interviewed before.”
Having seen hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes during her career, Larson was impressed with what she saw. “Their resumes were amazing. They were to the point and simple, which is what we like.”
Larson said the students were right on point with other job candidates she has interviewed for entry-level positions. “You could definitely tell they had the pre-interview jitters and were nervous,” she said. “But as we continued on, they started to open up, and be more relaxed and confident in themselves.”
Despite having a few of his own jitters, Scorpion senior Quidman “Q” Flemings gained helpful insight from the class assignment.
“My resume was already done before this project, but Mrs. C helped me bump it up a bit more, putting in achievements I’ve accomplished.”
Which included being named homecoming king. “She was like, put that on there,” he said.
In his small group, the interview began with him. “At first I was really nervous. But then I got comfortable with the interviewer. If this is how most interviews go, it should be pretty cool. I had to think about the first question, but it wasn’t hard. I had to scroll through that and figure out what I needed to tell him about my work experience,” Quidman said.
Because he went first, he didn’t get to hear his classmates’ answers. “I did learn from them, but I couldn’t use what I learned in this interview. My peers used my answers, they piggy backed off of them. It was good to help them out.”
As far as facing a real job interview in the future, Quidman said he’s prepared. “This definitely gives me a hand up and some good experience. I’ll probably still have some nerves about it, but I can shake that off a bit easier because I can now say I’ve done it.”