EACC partners with local businesses to host interviews

For the second year in a row, the Elkhart Area Career Center (EACC) invited local business partners, who volunteer their time and provide staff, to participate in mock interviews. In the 2015-16 school year, 110 students participated with 21 business partners. This year, participation grew to include 325 students and 51 business partners. The students involved came from 22 different programs within the career center.

In preparation for the next step in their career or college, all EACC programs require students to develop a working portfolio upon graduation. The portfolio includes résumé preparation, cover letters, references, and thank you letter preparation. Portfolios will show students’ work and projects from their program, as well as community service, volunteer work, and interview preparation throughout the year. Along with classroom preparations, EACC invites several of their business partners to give seminars on career success, including ‘Dress for Success’ and ‘Do’s and Don’ts of Interviewing’.

Prior to their assigned interviews, business partners are sent student résumés, cover letters, and a rubric they complete after each interview. The rubric will tell the students how they did; it will give them feedback on their résumé, cover letter, appearance, presentation, delivery, and language.  Students walk away from this experience knowing their strengths, where they need improvement, and with added confidence that comes from the experience. For the business partners, it is an opportunity for them to help students prepare for the workforce and possibly find future employees. “I expressed to him (the student) how I thought this was a positive program not only for EACC but for our company, Siemens Healthcare, as well,” says Randall Hoefle, senior supervisor of manufacturing, Siemens Healthcare.

“It is about getting the students ready for real world experiences. We need our students to have as many tools in their toolkit as possible.” says, Jackie O’Hara, EACC business skills specialist. In some cases, students are considered for summer positions and internship opportunities.

Following his interviews, Richard Troyer, chief learning officer, MapleTronics, provided this feedback, “I would have offered four students jobs if they were out of high school and I had them available.” Other business partners offered students a summer job upon graduating high school, with a future job once they complete their course of study at college. Business partners have also chosen to keep the information of those students they feel would be an asset to their company; this may lead to future opportunities for both the business and student.

One EACC student, Cristofer, shares “My experience at the mock interview was very helpful. Now I know what to work on and can be more confident with what I am going to say.”  Students learn how to interview, but more than that, they learn how to make connections and network.

If you are a local business and want to be part of future mock interviews or would like to partner with EACC please contact Jackie O’Hara: johara@elkhart.k12.in.us