When OLSH alumna Mrs. Erica Hollabaugh ’04 returned to the school to interview for a position in the English Department, she was asked what had been her favorite lesson from her student teaching experience. Erica responded that she had her students write a business letter, create a resume, and conduct mock interviews with each other, role-playing the interviewer and interviewee. Erica was offered the teaching position at OLSH with the agreement that she would bring this lesson plan to OLSH and expand upon it.
Erica partners with fellow English teacher, Mrs. Maureen Steuernagel, who oversees the senior seminar course, Felician Values Fulfilled, in implementing this project. Part of the senior seminar requires students to complete a job shadow experience. Maureen teaches the students how to compose a formal email to send to a prospective employer, requesting the opportunity to do a job shadow experience at their company.
Erica then works with the students on writing a business letter and putting together a resume. She said the students often don’t know where to start, so she helps them not only with the formatting of the resume, but with the information it should include. She encourages the students to focus on their strengths both inside and outside of school; to note any awards or honors they have received; and to include their current school activities. At this stage of their lives, some students have not yet held a formal job, but she reminds them that babysitting, dog walking, or grass mowing can be listed, as they help to demonstrate traits like responsibility and enthusiasm.
Erica invites her sister, Brianna Flasco ’09, who works as a Recruiter for Bayer Corporation, to come in to talk to the students about the interviewing process, focusing on presentation. Brianna also works with each student individually on ways to improve their resumes. Students then research the degrees and/or fields of study they are hoping to pursue.
The next phase of the program is the mock interview. Several school staff members volunteer to conduct interviews. In preparation, the students are instructed to dress appropriately that day and to report to a room where someone is waiting to conduct the interview. Erica tries to match the student with someone who shares their interests such as technology, writing, or science. All students are asked the same questions. They are given feedback as to how they presented themselves. The students then get to demonstrate the skills they’ve learned.
While students have described the actual interview experience as making them feel nervous and a bit anxious, they also say it is very helpful in preparing them for their futures.
Going forward, Erica hopes to expand the project by bringing in professionals from various fields and businesses to conduct the interviews, giving the students an even more real-world experience.