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Practice interviews prepares students for success after college

February 21, 2017
KOKOMO, Ind. — Participating in practice interviews opened new career possibilities for John Yount.

As a communications major, it was obvious to him that he could seek out jobs in newspaper or radio, but during one of his interviews, Nick Anderson, senior team manager for Charles A. Schwab & Co. Inc., Indianapolis, told him his company hires people to create social media campaigns.

“Even though that’s a financial company, it seems like a real option I could explore,” said Yount, a junior at Indiana University Kokomo. “He motivated and encouraged me to look for jobs in places I might not have considered. I have a better idea of what may interest me.”

Those kinds of “aha” moments are just one of the goals Tracy Springer, manager of career services and disabilities services, has for the “Backpack to Briefcase” career preparation series, sponsored by IU Kokomo’s Career and Accessibility Center.

“Advancing to the Real World” includied a question-and-answer session with four business professionals, followed by four 10-minute practice interviews for each participating student.

“The students gained experience in an interview setting, with multiple employers, which helps prepare them to interview for internships and future jobs,” she said. “It’s also a chance to network, and build relationships that could lead to future opportunities. Networking is key for these students as they prepare to launch their careers.”

She noted the volunteer interviewers provided written assessments for each student, giving them tips to improve for the next time.

That feedback is invaluable, accounting student Teresa Chilgreen said. She was a nurse before enrolling in the School of Business and recalled interviewing successfully for her first nursing job. Finally, she asked another nurse to evaluate her, incorporated what she learned into her next interview, and was hired.

“As someone with a previous career, I know what these programs have to offer is very important,” she said. “We get good insight into how to present ourselves.”

Anderson, who has worked 10 years for his company, encouraged the students to take advantage of all career preparation opportunities on campus.

“You can definitely tell a difference between someone who has attended events like this starting early on in college, and has practiced, and someone who just graduated and decided to come out and wing it,” he said.

He previously attended one of the career center’s job fairs, and met two IU Kokomo students who will soon start an apprenticeship program with his company, working part time during the school year, and full time in summer.

Interviewer Alison Brantley, B.A. ’12, knows first-hand the difference the Career and Accessibility Center makes, having utilized its services while she was a student. As coordinator of development and public relations at Bona Vista, a Kokomo-based nonprofit, she gives back by volunteering.

“I like to help cultivate students’ job experience, and interview experience,” she said. “Interviews don’t have to be as stressful as you think, and practice makes them less stressful. We have lots of job shadowing and internship opportunities, so the more we can interact with students, the better for us.”’

Sophomore Courtney Morgan, a communications major, prepares for internship opportunities by attending career service events. One of her interviewers discussed the possibility of an internship with her company during their session, she added.

“I would not have had that connection without attending this event,” she said. “My major requires an internship and I have to be able to interview to get one. A successful internship could become a solid job after graduation. This is a huge step into the future.”

Yount said it is never too early to begin preparing for professional life.

“You do yourself a huge competitive favor when it comes to entering the job market when you start as soon as possible.”

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana University Kokomo

Last updated: 02/21/2017