Farnsworth In The News

Students Get a Taste of The Real World During Mock Job Interviews
A Farnsworth student talks to Jon Dolson,
a financial adviser, during a "job interview"
at his school on March 18. Photo by
Sam Castro/The Sheboygan Press

A city alderman, a financial adviser and a radio DJ hired seventh-graders to work for them this month.

The teens filled out a real job application, complete with references, and sat across the table in the school library from potential employers.

Interviewers quizzed the applicants on awards they've earned, their grade-point averages and their strengths. Interviewers also explained how they handle stress and where they want to be in 10 years.

Some took the interview so seriously they thought they actually secured a job, said Michelle Renzelmann-Ross, coordinator and seventh-grade language arts teacher.

The seventh-grade class at Farnsworth Middle School walked into the mock job interviews earlier this month. About 200 students were matched up with volunteer professionals from the community to test their interview skills.

"It gives them an experience of, 'Oh my goodness, maybe I should do something more than just play Xbox after school," Renzelmann-Ross said. "They (learn) how to try to sell themselves."

The fifth annual career day capped off a professional unit for the seventh-graders, who studied what kinds of activities and other experiences they can list on a resume and who they could ask for references. They also perfected their eye contact, handshakes and speaking skills.

Rachel F. sat in her freshly ironed clothes across from a representative from Project Youth, a group that works with teens. Her hands shook in her lap.

By the end of the 10-minute interview, though, Rachel chatted easily about her dreams of becoming a fisherman on "Deadliest Catch," a Discovery Channel reality show that follows crews on the high seas.

"You don't have to be nervous, because it's just people you talk to. They won't criticize you," Rachel said, finally relaxing after her first-ever job interview.

Brooke H. sat tall in her chair as she explained to Ald. Bob Ryan why she had been late to class one time this year and her aspirations to become a lawyer.

"I thought I'd be really nervous … but it went really well," she said later. "I learned a lot about what to do in a real interview."

Ariel L. discovered he knew people already who could act as strong references once he begins his career path toward becoming a chef or a veterinarian. "It went pretty well. I was looking forward to it all day," he said.

The students � who were given feedback forms from their interviewers and followed up with thank-you notes � were well prepared, said Darin Daun, 38, a financial planner with The Financial Group, who volunteered as an interviewer.

"It's a good starting step. I think it starts getting their brain to think," he said.

Linda Matthews, 57, retired two years ago as a guidance counselor at Farnsworth. She returned this month to interview students and called it an impressive learning tool.

"They don't know this stuff in seventh grade. They're nervous but well prepared," she said. "They're taking this like it's very real."

Sheboygan Press Article - Kate McGinty

Sheboygan Area School District Press Release
March 29, 2009