Kendall seniors spoke with professionals in the fields they are interested in as part of Senior Interview Day on Nov. 2. 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 24 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. Brandi Kurzowski, a Vet Tech at Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Services in Rochester and Class of 2008 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 meeting with an employer is like. “The resume gets you in the door,” said Kurzowski. “You need to sell yourself in the interview.” She gave student Krystal Marks advice on her resume and interview skills. “You need to be prepared for the interview and be polished with your responses,” said Kurzowski. “Dress well for the interview and ask questions to gain more insight into that field.” She advised Krystal to gain some experience in the field, such as working part-time for a veterinary clinic.
Ralph Olney, a human resources (HR) professional and retired Senior Vice President of Carestream Health, met with senior Ryan Barrett, who is interested in a career in HR. Olney broke the ice with Ryan when he asked about Ryan’s Boy Scouts’ Eagle project listed on his resume; Olney was also an Eagle Scout when he was young. “We had a lot in common with our Eagle projects and path in Scouts,” said Ryan. Olney thought Ryan was well-prepared for the interview, a good listener and concise with his interview answers. He advised Ryan to obtain a bachelor’s degree in business, master’s degree, and then certification in HR. Ryan thought Olney was very knowledgeable and explained the field well. “I learned I didn’t have to follow a specific employment path to obtain an HR job,” said Ryan. “My work experience will determine how far I go in that field.”
Senior Matt DiNatale met with Dr. James Gaden, a primary care physician. “Meeting with Dr. Gaden was super-helpful,” said Matt. “He steered me towards studying primary medicine, where I can specialize from there. I was interested in physical therapy, but now I’m interested in general medicine after talking to him. Dr. Gaden also encouraged me to volunteer in this field to find out more about it.”
Student Kaitlyn Gregory also met with Dr. Gaden. She is interested in nursing and thought Dr. Gaden was easy to talk to about her career choice. “He told me not to be too stiff and don’t think too much about my responses in the interview,” she said. He also encouraged Kaitlyn to gain more experience and insight into nursing by volunteering in that field.
Twelfth grader Hanna Hofstra was offered a job as a museum docent when she met with Doug Farley from The Cobblestone Museum. She isn’t sure what she wants to do after graduation, but thought this would be a good opportunity to work at the museum by leading tours and interacting with large groups of people.
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 11 years.