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Business Community, World Of Academics Come Together

OSWEGO, NY – Oswego High School students got a taste of real job interviews on Wednesday as a variety of local businesspeople questioned the teens.

Professionals from unions, Camp Hollis, SUNY Oswego, the military, the school district and other fields put the students through their paces in mock job interviews in Oswego High School’s Media Center.

Kaila McClelland and Brandon Morey
OHS senior Kaila McClelland takes part in an interview Wednesday with Brandon Morey.

The professionals said they were impressed with the way the students handled the situation.

The activity was designed to allow OHS seniors to get a real world work experience with interview techniques, according to Stephanie Steiger of the OHS Career Center.

The program has been conducted for the past several years.

Dozens of students milled around the room waiting for a chance to interview with Mary Plummer of Aunt Mary’s Catering,  Brandon Morey of Camp Hollis, Bill Reilly of the river’s end bookstore, Joy Knopp of SUNY Oswego and Jeff Wallace Sr. of Creative Business Development among others.

The event was designed to help the students hone their skills for the day they would be interviewing for a real job or a college interview.

The majority of the teens did very well, according to Morey.

Kaila McClelland was one of his first interviews.

“I’m looking for something in psychology. I work with a lot of children right now. I love working with kids, so I want to keep doing it,” she said.

Taking part in the mock interview program definitely helps students know what’s expected during a real job or college interview she added.

“It helps put you more at ease,” another student said. “This is very realistic and you can learning a lot by doing these interviews.”

The students handled themselves very well and were very confident, Morey said.

“I think this is a great idea for them, And, it’s nice that so many of the business people are volunteering their time to help,” Morey said. “Some of the kids have never held a job, never gone through an interview and you can tell, you can tell the inexperience. It’s really good that the school does this. It will really help the kids a lot.”

At least one student connected well in the morning sessions with Wallace.

Wallace deviated from the format.

“I’m actually giving them something (a pair of glasses or pen) and then they have 30 seconds or less to tell me why I should buy that from them,” he said. “I want to see their ability to size something up pretty quick and convince me I should buy it. That way I can determine their ability to be quick on their feet.”

“They are very prepared and take this seriously,” said Helen Hoefer, director of community services at Catholic Charities of Oswego County. “In fact many of them sat right down, looked me right in the eye and didn’t back away; that’s real confidence for a 17 or 18 year old.”

The greatest part of the program was that there were so many people from around the community that helped out, Plummer noted.

“This is a great cooperative effort and we thank the community for its support,” Steiger added.

“It does help the kids prepare,” agreed Morey. “The more you practice the better you get.”

The program has been conducted for about 13 years and is designed to allow OHS seniors to get a real world work experience with interview techniques, according to Ed Stacy, one of the teachers involved in the program.

The bottom line is the district wants the students to go out and be confident when they interview for real jobs, colleges and graduate schools, said Ben Richardson, another of the teachers whose students took part in the program.

The teachers said that they realize the importance of students interviewing well, not only for jobs but college as well.

They developed the program to simulate real life job interviews.

The students dressed appropriately and many brought resumes and portfolios.

The teens received feedback from the interviewers.

“The interview is important, but this program also provides students the opportunity to learn about a variety of career and job opportunities,” Richardson said. “We encourage the students to experience more than one interview. They just might find something they’re interested in that they hadn’t been aware of before.”