WAYNESBURG – With just over a month left until graduation, seniors in Greene County Career and Technology Center received an opportunity to practice their interviewing skills, with help from professionals representing 18 different businesses, schools, agencies and the military.
Armed with resumes, mock applications and portfolios, students were placed with one of the interviewers, who then critiqued areas such as neatness, poise, confidence and appearance.
Jefferson-Morgan High School student Krista Peteritis, who is in the health assistant program, said she found the mock interview to be somewhat helpful. Peteritis exercised the option to take part in the interviews in her sophomore year. Since then, she was hired as a nursing assistant at Evergreen Assisted Living in Waynesburg.
She said the practice of interviewing will help students who have yet to get their first job.
“I think it will make them a little less nervous,” Peteritis said.
Although she had been through the practice interview before and secured the position at Evergreen, she said the extra practice at interviewing this week is still a bit of a help.
After graduation, she has plans of attending Westmoreland County Community College to become a certified nursing assistant and then back to the technology center for the licensed practical nursing program offered for adults. Her ultimate goal is to become a physician.
Technology center guidance counselor and cooperative education coordinator Karen Cosner said the annual interview sessions have the potential to give students, like Peteritis, an upper hand when they go into the job market.
“The hope is that they will have this under their belt to use later,” Cosner said.
Explaining the process, she said, “We give each interviewer a list of questions, which they can modify if they choose. They are also given an evaluation to complete and review with the student.”
Cosner said the idea is to critique the students as one would if they were a potential employee and tell them how they can improve. Although the majority of the interviewers were not actively seeking employees, there were some seeking skilled applicants.
“We would love to have all of the people conducting the interviews to have jobs available,” Cosner said. “It would be wonderful to have this be like a real job fair.”
In the case of Brownsville Marine Products representative Pam Florian, the company was looking at some of the welding students for potential jobs, according to Cosner.
The three-day interviewing process follows on the heels of many students completing the certification testing for their area of study. Cosmetology students who complete the required number of hours take the state boards for performance and written knowledge. Those who pass are qualified to enter the job market, just as those who attend a beauty school. Students in the precision machining program take the NIMS or National Institute for Metalworking Skills exam. Their practical work is evaluated by a third party as part of the NIMS certification.
Other disciplines at the technology center are required to take the NOCTI or National Occupational Competency Testing Institute exams. Like the cosmetology program, students taking the NIMS or NOCTI receive a certification in their area of study that prepares them to enter the workforce.
Jacqueline Workman, RN, director of Amedisys Hospice in Masontown, a graduate of the LPN program at the technology center, conducted mock interviews Thursday.
“Most of the students were well prepared with specific career goals in mind. These young adults are our future, the next generation in the job force. I enjoyed my experience as a student there. I look forward to helping with the interviews again next year,” Workman said. “I’d like to see more students in general attend the CTC and take advantage of the programs offered there. It is severely underutilized with all of the opportunities it presents.”