VIDEO: Preparing for their future

Published 9:45 am Friday, May 29, 2009

Gone are the days where an eighth-grader’s sole objective in school life is looking forward to being a freshman in the high school.

These are the days where students start looking forward to their future careers.

Close to 50 Austin professionals came to Ellis Middle School Thursday to meet with eighth-graders for career interviews, the final cog in several weeks worth of helping students prepare for lies ahead.

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“The overall objective of (Thursday), is really a culmination of several weeks of work where students research five careers — careers of their interest,” said Ellis social studies teacher Eric Vaughn, who along with Lisa Glynn organized Thursday’s interviews. “And part of a career is needing to do an interview.”

Students sat down with professionals they didn’t know for between five and 10 minutes and answered questions that told their questioner a little about who they are and what they are looking ahead to.

At the same time, it gives students a feel for what they will have to deal with in the future.

“It has everything to do with what does an interview feel like, what do you do when they ask those tough questions like, ‘tell me your strengths or weaknesses.’” Vaughn said. “We told kids to have answers to those questions, because those are the questions that are impressive to older folks in the community who are coming in that have a careers.”

Students go so far as dressing for the part, with boys coming in with button shirts and ties and girls in skirts or dress slacks.

It would be easy for the students to be overwhelmed, but the eighth graders seem to embrace the interviews and make them count.

“Hopefully, it’s practice on how to get a job and being successful,” eighth-grader Naney Omot said, who admitted that his vision is already directed down a path toward being a lawyer. “It went well. I think I did a pretty good job.”

Mckenzie Besel has been helping with the interviews in previous years, but this year is the first time she has actually taken part in the interviews herself.

“It went really well,” she said. “I thought it was very useful in getting prepared for the future so when you are applying for a real job it won’t be as scary and you will know what to expect.”

The program also leaves an impression on those professionals who give the interviews. Shawn Radford is a human relations administrator for Hormel Foods and has experience giving interviews for the company. She also has been involved in career interviews at Ellis for a number of years.

It was easy for her to see the advantages these interviews give students.

“It is such a worthwhile experience,” Radford said. “It’s an opportunity to connect with the community. I interview. It’s great to teach our kids on how to do that.”