Seniors prepare for future interviews

Published 10:47 pm Thursday, March 29, 2018

High school students are facing a competitive future in which they’ll need to do the best they possibly can in order to secure careers that are truly fulfilling. All of that takes practice, and more than 100 Suffolk students recently did just that.

The 27th annual career expo was held Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront on East Constance Road. Sponsored by the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council, the event was open to all high school seniors who completed a Career and Technical Education course provided through programs like The College and Career Academy at Pruden.

Approximately 125 to 150 Suffolk high school seniors sat with 30 different businesses and organizations for mock interviews, and the representatives gave feedback on the students’ interviewing performance and resumes, according to Career and Technical Education Coordinator André Skinner.

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“The most important thing is that they get feedback that they can take back their teachers,” Skinner said. “That helps us improve on what we need to improve in order to further develop their workplace readiness skills.”

One common piece of advice was for students to emphasize their strengths as job candidates. Emmanuel “Manny” Arcelona, a Norfolk Naval Shipyard apprentice training specialist, told students to highlight any distinctions on their resume that promote their skills.

“They may have a leadership award or community service, and they can apply to show what they bring to the table,” Arcelona said.

That’s one of the priorities for King’s Fork High School senior Tiffany Faircloth. The 18-year-old said she desires to work with infants as a neonatal nurse, both because she wants to work with children and because she likes the job flexibility that’s possible as a nurse.

She learned that eye contact and inquisitiveness are critical in interviews, along with expanding your resume outside of school.

“I want to get into more volunteering, probably at Sentara or a nursing home,” she said.

Another issue that many young interviewees have is being too nervous and overcompensating by coming off as too relaxed and conversational, according to Sherri Ward, recruitment and admissions specialist for Paul D. Camp Community College.

“A lot of times, they want to be confident but seem too comfortable,” Ward said. “It’s still a formal situation. Some companies want that conversational style, but I think it’s better to err on the side of caution and stay professional.”

She advised the seniors to do their homework and walk into interviews with their own questions about the position, work life and company.

“You’re showing that you’re knowledgeable about the job, but you still want to keep asking questions,” she said. “I’ve been on a lot of interview panels, and those are the things that we love.”

Marcus Ramos, a 17-year-old King’s Fork High School senior, had a better understanding that being social was key.

“I find it hard to just randomly talk to somebody. I like to get to know a person first before I delve into a full-fledged conversation,” he said.

He planned to have a more conversational style in order to land a good position as a cyber security expert, starting with that one-on-one conversation in an actual interview.