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Real world experience is nothing to mock

Arlington Heights, IL – The nervous excitement unique to those who are about to walk into a job interview ran through 295 eighth graders at South Middle School last week as they all had mock interviews scheduled with local business owners and managers.

South Middle School’s Library Media Center acted as a job fair, as one student after another, dressed to the nines, walked in geared up to learn what to expect when eventually interviewing for a future job.

“We hope they come away from this experience feeling much more comfortable for their first real interview,” Library Media Specialist Kay Lueken said.

Lueken, with help from Teaching Assistant Lynne DeSalvo and the Language Arts Career Education team, gathered close to 30 different volunteer interviewers, all from local businesses, to come in throughout the entire week and conduct interview after interview.

Volunteer managers from local Starbucks, KinderCare, Northwest Community Hospital, the Arlington International Racecourse, an editor of the Daily Herald, and other local businesses and Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce members volunteered their time.

According to Lueken, every eighth grade student filled out a questionnaire, indicating which business or organization he or she would like to interview with. In their language arts class, the students researched and prepared questions for their interview.

As students entered the LMC for their interview, Lueken and DeSalvo would greet them, as any executive assistant would in an office setting, and made sure the students made a proper introduction with a smile and a handshake. Then it was off to the interview.

“Not knowing what questions were going to be asked and the environment made me nervous,” one interviewee Jonathan Mead said. “Now that it’s over, I am so happy that I got to have this real world experience.”

Mead interviewed with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., a global insurance brokerage and risk management service firm, based in Rolling Meadows. In the interview, Mead quickly learned that researching the company you are interviewing with is very important.

“I like to make sure that they have an understanding as to what we do,” Mark Orzechowski of Arthur J. Gallagher said. “I also want them to walk away knowing how important it is for them to tell their story in an interview. Sharing what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, the impact you have on others, and what you can bring to the table, all in ten to twelve minutes is very difficult.”

Tim Ryan owns five Subway restaurants in the area and has participated in this event as an interviewer at South for three years. According to Ryan, he keeps coming back because it reminds him of when he first started a franchisee for Subway. He loves connecting to the community his stores serve.

“I want the kids to walk away [from an interview with me] with the experience of talking to an adult, in a highly stressful situation, and just be able to say, ‘that wasn’t so bad,’” Ryan said.

After all is over with the interview, students are taught to follow up by writing a thank you note to the interviewer. The students will be graded on the entire process based on written feedback the interviewer will give to their language arts teacher, but the experience might turn out to be the most valuable thing the students walk away with.

Starbucks interview    KinderCare interview


Subway interview

Adam Harris