Freshmen get a taste of the real world
Eagle Valley High School currently requires freshmen to take a class called “freshman seminar.”
The class is loosely based Sean Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens,” and includes career planning and character development. The students are now in the “careers unit” part of the course, during which they have learned about the potential careers.
The kids have been taught how to fill out job applications, create resumes, search for a job, write cover and follow-up letters, and how to be prepare or an interview. “The unit is designed to give freshmen a view into the real world of work,” teacher Ron Beard said.
Beard, along with teacher Eric Mandeville, recruited business and community members to interview the students the week before spring break. Some of the interviewers were looking to place kids for real summer jobs though most were just tests.
Approximately 160 kids competing for 21 jobs and each student was required to choose a job and go through the interview. Then, the adults were asked to pick one student for the “job.” Those students hired were well-rewarded with extra points in class.
Students watched films on interviewing during several class sessions of preparation for their interviews. Interviewers, meanwhile, were asked not to lower their expectations and to award the best scores to students who were prepared and who did well in the interview.
A typical mock job posting for the students looked like this:
Journalist assistant needed in Eagle. Applicant must be energetic, deadline oriented and a self-starter with good organizational skills. Tasks will include assisting reporters with research, interviews and errands. This position will work with various departments including sports, editorial, photography and community events. Please bring resume and basic application to interview.
Mandeville and Beard taught the students to be “ARMED” for their interviews.
“A” stands for attitude and application. Students were encouraged to display a positive attitude and a clean and complete application.
“R” stands for resume, and students were shown lots of clean, sharp and informative resumes as models. Some students, however, opted not to write a resume.
“M” was for motivation. Students were asked to show employers that they really wanted to work – not that they have to work.
“E” was for education. Students were encouraged to learn about their potential employers prior to the interview. Students were shown how to ask pertinent questions during the interview to learn more about the business or employer.
‘D’, finally, stands for dressed for success.
“We emphasize to students the importance of the cover letter, application and resume,” Mandeville said. “Obviously – with those three materials done correctly – the student’s odds go up of getting the job, just like in real life.”
Before the interview
The week before spring break, freshmen said they were feeling anxious and excited about the up-coming interviews. “I’m a little nervous,” Emily Lich said. “But I think it will be fun and it’s great to get the experience.”
Lich was gearing up for her interview with Roxie Deane at the Eagle Valley Medical Center. Lich said she chose that job because she plans on becoming a veterinarian.
Businesses interviewing students for real or mock jobs were: Kidtopia, Scott Green Excavating, town of Gypsum, the Vail Daily, Castle Peak Auto, Alpine Laser Clinic, Eagle Valley Events, Alpine Bank, Sunshine Mountain Preschool, Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, Broadway Bar & Grill, Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District, Eagle Amoco, Brush Creek Builders, Mi Pueblo, Eagle Valley Medical Center, Spiegel Construction, Copy Plus and Johnson, Kunkel and Associates.
Eagle moms Shannon Fedrizzi and LaVina Beveridge interviewed for summer child care.
After interviews, kids reported the experience wasn’t as scary as they thought it would be.
Student Hannah Moore interviewed with Chris Darrohn from Eagle’s Broadway Bar & Grill. “Mr. Darrohn was a very nice gentleman and I thought it went very well,” she said. “I thought it would be extremely hard, but it was easy and calm – I would really want to work there.”
Moore was the top interviewee for Broadway.
Because of an experience some years ago, Eagle Amoco’s Ed Oyler said he was ready for his students to be somewhat rude. “It was a good experience for me – the students were attentive and interested in the job,” said Oyler. “I was a little surprised and I think it’s a good thing they’re doing down there to give kids that experience.”
Beard and Mandeville said they want to expand the program for year’s freshmen. Although the process was a lot of work, they believe it’s worth it. “Hopefully, this experience will stick with them and the kids will remember what they need to improve on,” Beard said.
Interviewers gave feedback to the teachers about each student’s performance.
Principal Mark Strakbein said the job interviews are in line with future plans at the high school. “It was an overall tremendous learning experience for the students and the people who came to interview,” Strakbein said.
The interviews along with activities strengthen partnerships between the school and community, he said.
“We’re trying to bridge that gap and achieve that goal to help create a community of learners,” Strakbein said.