You gotta start ’em early to affect their future

Published 3:59 pm Friday, July 1, 2011

In a mock interview, Carlo Orso of M & F Bank talks with CHS student Hollie Brown about her career goals. (Contributed)

By MOLLIE BROWN / Community Columnist

Calera High School administration and faculty are firm believers in preparing students for the future. They bring in outside speakers in careers related to their subject matter, hold Dress for Success monthly assemblies to help students understand the differences between casual and professional attire and counselors and senior teachers do College Readiness activities as well as Career Cruising with upperclassmen.

“One of the core beliefs of our administration is that if kids see the connection between their studies and their future, they’re much more likely to be diligent and successful,” Assistant Principal Joel Dixon said. “An essential part of our mission includes preparing our students for the next step, whether that’s college, technical school or the work force.  If we fail to prepare our kids, we’ve failed as a school.”

Dixon feels students leave Calera High with the skills to succeed in the next phase of their journey, but may miss job opportunities because nerves get the better of them in the interview process. The administration decided to begin with the sophomore class, and members of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and school staff volunteered to do mock interviews for students in Dr. Mary Rees’ English classes.

“To prepare for the interview, I gave students a work packet that helped them prepare a resume,” Rees said. “The students were given several days to complete the packet, write their resume and prepare for the interview. In the interview, students were asked to tell about themselves, their strength and weaknesses, career goals and why they would make a good employee.”

Students were graded on their initial greeting, posture, the ability to communicate clearly, their professional appearance, focus on relevant skills, experience and overall maturity, intelligence and readiness for the interview.

Student Hollie Brown said she and her classmates liked the assignment. “It helped us realize what we’re really good at and what career fields we would be interested in,” Brown said.

Dixon conducted and observed interviews and was very pleased with the results.

“Hopefully, sitting down to interview with an unfamiliar face helped make the scenario all the more real,” he said. “Having gone through the interview process will only benefit them in the future. We will continue this in the coming year and would like to see it grow to include a career fair at which students would have the opportunity to interview for summer internships and jobs.”

Mollie Brown can be reached at