Tag Archives: mentor

Interviewing for the Future

Being a good interviewer is a skill we should all have. I got my first job slicing meats and scooping salads in our grocery store’s deli, but I imagine that’s only because my dad worked there. I was hardly interview ready and showed up wearing jeans. Luckily practice makes perfect and throughout the years I’ve gained the skills necessary to feel confident when I sit across from the person who may or may not make it possible for me to pay my bills. But, teenagers are often terrified of the idea of an interview just as I had once been.HSHT MID 2017-19

Interviewing skills, resume writing, soft skills, and professionalism are all heavily covered topics in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s High School/High Tech and Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) classes. We want our students to ace any interview they walk in to and that takes a lot of practice. Leading up to our annual Mock Interview Day, we talk about what they should wear and how they should answer popular interview questions as well as why they should smile, make eye contact, and have good firm handshakes. We do everything we can to prepare our youth and they usually seem ready to go but inevitably, when they line up in the hallway to begin the first of their three short mock interviews, the panic sets in. I can understand why – our volunteer interviewers are very professionally dressed, sitting tall and stoic in their seats and it immediately makes all of the students doubt their skills and forget everything we taught them. However, over the course of the day, something really great happens. You can see these young people feel confident and proud of themselves. They leave their first interview with a grade sheet that usually tells the same tale – they did well, but have a few things they need to work on. At the second interview, they’ve worked on these shortcomings and did a pretty good job! By their third, they’re old pros comparing near perfect scores with each other in the hallway. Watching a young person believe they can do something well is pretty amazing.

HSHT MID 2017-45This year, Carmen Phillips, the newest member of Easter Seals Greater Houston’s High School/High Tech team, hosted her own Mock Interview Day and included a fun new activity that got students talking with each other and moving around. By making each student their own business cards to share and use for networking with other students, Carmen was able to make every student social. Even the most shy or reserved students made an effort to network with others and talk about themselves in between mock interviews. This was a fun new mock interview day inclusion that we will be using every year to get our youth excited about sharing what they know with other people.

HSHT MID 2017-05Yvonne Kelly and I enjoyed watching students at our Mock Interview Day in League City cut each other in line to be able to do their second or third interviews before one another because they had gotten such great scores and couldn’t wait to do it again! We had a funny and boisterous group this year and they made the day so fun.

Watching all of our youth participate, feel accomplished, and actually be excited about interviewing is such a reward for us as each Mock Interview Day ends. We can’t wait to see what next year brings as we prepare our students for their transition out of high school and into the world of college and work!

Jacquie Privitera Miller, RAMP and Transition Coordinator, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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N.A.S.A: It IS Rocket Science

We all know NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Space City infrastructure of the Johnson nasaSpace Center, but for a moment, I like to pretend that NASA has a new acronym:  Never Assume Someone’s Ability.   This summer, the Easter Seals Greater Houston High School High Tech Program was again honored to have interns working inside the Johnson Space Center alongside college interns, engineers, and even rocket scientists.  After meeting with one High School High Tech Summer Intern, I learned that Matthew’s position was far from most adolescent summer jobs.

Matthew was tasked with developing, testing, and implementing an inter-department network for video conferences.  This system would allow the various programs of NASA to communicate in real-time from distant locations.  In addition, it would be secure from any external eavesdropping to safeguard future works and works-in-progress.  HSHT Coordinator Yvonne Kelly commented that when Matthew first began attending High School High Tech activities, he was a different person—he was shy, barely spoke and refrained from eye contact.  Now, he was sitting up tall in his chair and energetically recalling his NASA job duties.  Matthew’s mother added to this assessment by stating:  “Matthew has really come out of his shell.”  She continued to tell me how the family was uncertain about Matthew’s future—whether he would be able to attend college or even obtain and maintain a job.  Teary-eyed, and with a mother’s sincerity, she thanked High School High Tech for providing Matthew the opportunity to gain exposure, experience, and confidence.

So it is fitting that this summer, NASA, Johnson Space Center welcomes the installment of Space Shuttle Independence which will be permanently displayed atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft 747.  I gaze in awe at the shuttle perched upon the much larger 747 and I see Matthew.  I see Matthew propped up by his family, his community, and by this opportunity through the High School High Tech program.  I see Matthew, with his new-found confidence, soaring to his own independence.  I see Matthew and I think:  Never Assume Someone’s Ability.

Charles Martin, High School High Tech, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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