Kendall seniors recently spoke with professionals in the fields they are interested in as part of Senior Interview Day at Kendall JSHS. Students filled out questionnaires to identify what careers they are interested in pursuing, and then Kendall staff did their best to match each student with a professional in that field. Tradesmen, health care workers and law enforcement officials were some of the 29 professionals in attendance.
Beginning in September, seniors worked with their Government and ELA teachers to prepare for their interviews. They worked on writing and proofing their resumes, cover letters and thank you notes. Counselors worked with students on how to dress for an interview and use appropriate body language and speech in the interview.
The experience simulated what it would be like for the students to apply for a job in their field. Students submitted their resumes to the professionals prior to the interview. Some professionals had part-time jobs or internship opportunities available that they screened students for. During their meetings with the professionals in the JSHS Library, students answered interview questions, asked for career advice, had questions about college or vocational training answered, and found out how to prepare for their intended career through opportunities such as part-time jobs, internships or volunteer work. After each interview, professionals completed a rubric on each student. Teachers shared feedback from the rubrics with students to help them improve their performance in the future.
Senior Interview Day directly ties to the district’s mission of preparing students for life outside of school. Many of the employers are Kendall alumni, too. Tricia Neal, an Emergency Medical Technician for Carlton Ambulance and Class of 2007 Kendall graduate, remembered participating in Senior Interviews when she was a student. Now that she has been the interviewer for a few years, she tries to be open and honest with students about what her job is like. “This job is not easy, there are going to be days that you struggle with it,” said Neal, of being an EMT. “If you have an interest and a passion for this job, that helps pull you through.” She shared resources with student Emma Robb about how to get certified. “I thought Emma asked good questions, did her research, and set good short-term and long-term goals for herself,” said Neal. “I think she’ll be good for this field.”
Senior Hannah Ulmen conducted a Skype interview with Nathan Volk, a graphic artist who has done work for New Era Cap Company, Marvel Comics and DC Comics. She is interested in becoming an illustrator and thought the experience of Skyping her Senior Interview was more relaxed than doing a formal interview in-person. “Nathan gave me great advice, such as don’t give up if I don’t get a job right out of college,” said Hannah. “He encouraged me to do an internship. We talked about what foundational skills I’ll need to have and what courses to take in college. I have more confidence in my skills after talking to him, and I learned a lot of great information.”
Debbie Ryan, the KCSD Treasurer, interviewed senior Ashley Sietmann. Ryan has a background in accounting and helped her family run a grocery store for many years. She was impressed with Ashley’s conduct during her interview. “Ashley was prepared, very confident, and she is taking the right courses to prepare for a future in the accounting field,” said Ryan. “She knows what’s needed to excel in her career.” Ashley felt like she gained good interview experience after talking with Ryan. “I have better insight into a possible career in accounting,” said Ashley. “Mrs. Ryan did a great job explaining what her job is.”
Kendall juniors were involved in Senior Interview Day, too, by ushering employers to their assigned tables and keeping track of the students waiting to interview. They also received insight into how to prepare for their own Senior Interview Day next year by talking with the seniors about their experience.
The seniors completed the experience by writing their thank you notes to the professionals right after the interview. “The kids really look forward to this day,” said Principal Carol D’Agostino. She said the program has been operating at Kendall for at least 10 years.