School To Work Students Go Virtual To Sharpen Job Skills

One of Johnston High School’s most popular options for senior students is the School-to-Work program, where students pair up with metro-area businesses to explore possible career options through an internship that starts in October and runs through April.

But before they get to the business door, students go through a number of skill-building and interest-discovery exercises to ensure they are going into these internships with their best foot forward. JHS School-to-Work Coordinators Lexi Shafer and Kayla Bousum spend about nine weeks preparing students in the classroom before sending them out to their internship placements.

STW Skills Workshops

Local professional clothier Hal Wilson models appropriate work wear for students in the JHS School To Work program, via a Zoom class.

Recently, School-to-Work students attended virtual mock interviews as part of a Professional Skills Workshop. The JHS intermediary at DMACC set up the workshop so students could click a link and interview virtually with a complete stranger– a new, necessary skill since the onset of COVID.

On top of the short interview, the DMACC intermediary arranged four different guest speakers to meet with students via Zoom and cover topics such as professional dress, today’s job market, interviewing skills, and personal branding.

Local professional custom clothier Hal Wilson was the guest speaker for the professional dress session. The Zoom platform allowed students to see examples of different types of professional dress and ask a variety of questions through chat.

“It was great to see the students so interested in the topic and asking many questions,” said Bousum. “Mr. Wilson was able to address all their specific questions during the session. This helps tremendously in preparing students for their mock interviews and real internship interviews in the future.”   Shafer added, “Going virtual with the Professional Skills Workshop this year helped students become more comfortable with being involved in an online webinar and interviewing via Zoom.

School-to-Work intern, Chase McLaren said, “The mock interview process was useful for getting real experience without the pressure of applying for a real position. Now that I know what to expect, I feel much more confident.”

The School-to-Work class is a year-long enrollment. There are currently 52 students in the class, which has been growing in popularity since it began in 2017.