Job Training For The Real World


Payson High School teachers know that all of their students won't attend a college, university or trade school. Some students will go directly to work.

To help them prepare for the job market, Payson High held senior Career Day Thursday with the help of local Rotary Club members and business leaders.

The program is designed to teach students how to write resumes and confidently complete job interviews, Debbie Wheelis, head of the PHS English department, said.

Rotarians and other volunteers put the students to the test Thursday during mock job interviews.

Although the jobs the students were interviewing for weren't real, the real-world lessons they received were.

"It's a requirement for graduation," Wheelis said. "They have to create a career essay. The culmination is, they have to choose a career."

Wheelis said the students aren't held to their choices. They just have to go through the process of picking a career.

"We have to have trade people," she said. "A lot of them go into the military. Some go on a mission. Some go to work and some go to college."

Wheelis and the other teachers in the program work with the students to help them create a plan and figure out what their options are.

"We give them as much information as we can," she said. "Then they can run with it."

She said about 25 percent of the graduating high school students today go on to college. "Eight years ago, it was much lower than that," she said.

PHS teachers show students how to dress for job interviews, show enthusiasm and answer questions.

Carole Omoto sat at the registration desk Thursday and talked with students as they entered the auditorium, preparing them for the interviewers, who represented local businesses ranging from banks to restaurants.

Sue Conner, a Rotary member and branch manager of American Bantrust Mortgage Services Corp., said, "It's important that the business people take a whole day to come do this. It's important to a small community."

Barbara Underwood, School to Work coordinator for the Payson School District, said, "This is what School to Work is all about, bringing the students and the businesses together -- showing the businesses what the schools are all about and showing the schools what businesses do. We want the schools to know what businesses are expecting of young people."

The interviewers scored the students and showed them how they did at the end of the interviews.

On Monday, Liesl Smith, one of the 122 students who participated, said her interview went well.

"The interviewer (Kelly Udall of the Town of Payson) was very professional," she said. "He was easy to talk to, and it was a good experience for teenagers looking for a job."

Smith said she talked to other seniors who said it wasn't as scarry as they thought it would be.

"I thought it went really well," senior Stormi Ewing said. "(Sterling Smith) was real nice and he gave me a lot of good advice."

Participating in these mock interviews will give the students an edge in the workplace, Underwood said.

"It's an important component in a student's life -- to do a job interview," she said.

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