Going to INTERVIEWNIVERSITY

Hillsboro students build their resumes, find job and volunteer opportunities through specialized program

Created on Thursday, 03 March 2016 00:00

 

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTOS: TRAVIS LOOSE - (clockwise from bottom left) City Manager Michael Brown, at left, and Hillsboro Hops General Manager K.L. Wombacher interview Miller-West senior Sam Denniston during Interviewniversity at the Civic Center Feb. 25.

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE – (clockwise from bottom left) City Manager Michael Brown and Hillsboro Hops General Manager K.L. Wombacher interview Miller-West senior Sam Denniston during Interviewniversity at the Civic Center Feb. 25.

If Sam Denniston was nervous, she didn’t show it.

Seated before Hillsboro City Manager Michael Brown and Hillsboro Hops General Manager K.L. Wombacher, Denniston answered questions about her strengths and weaknesses, and about her dreams for the future.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” Brown asked.

“When you think of any dream job you could have, what comes to mind?” followed Wombacher.

The windowed walls of the Civic Center’s south side conference room provided Denniston no protection from peering eyes, which only added to the stress of the situation.

Two years ago, the city and the Hillsboro School District joined forces with local businesses and organizations to provide an innovative interview experience along with job and volunteer opportunities to help Hillsboro-area students build their resumes through a program called “Interviewniversity.”

Last week, nearly 70 students from five local high schools visited the Civic Center to be interviewed, have their resume’s critiqued, and participate in lectures meant to inform and prepare them for the working world.

Yet Denniston, an 18-year-old senior at Miller Education Center West, hardly resembled a student as she handled the interview like a seasoned pro with years of experience.

Denniston wants to be a forensic science analyst, like one of the characters on the T.V. show “Bones,” she told the pair of power interviewers. To get there, she plans to attend Portland Community College after graduation this spring, then transfer to a four-year university for her undergraduate degree.

“[We] designed this program to help students work on their soft skills,” said HSD College and Career Coordinator Brooke Nova. “As we hear from employers, this is something with which students continue to need support. [Interviewniversity] also provides real world context to what students are learning in school, such as interview skills and résumé building.”

Through Interviewniversity and other similar city/HSD partnered student programs, the district has seen an overall internship rate increase by 48 percent within one year (from 2013-14 to 2014-15), according to Nova.

Businesses work together for teenagers

Developed in 2014 by the city’s Human Resources department, with notable assistance from Director Robby Hammond who was integral in developing the concept and coming up with the name, Interviewniversity has helped approximately 115 Hillsboro students by providing resume writing support and mock interviews with professionals from the public and private sector since the 2014-2015 school year.

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - City Youth Development Coordinator Kristi Wilson (left) chats with Hilhi senior Abiy Welch after the Interviewniversity event. 'We try to help make the students comfortable –– help loosen them up before their interviews,' Wilson said. 'When they're all tight and wound up, they won't give good interviews.'

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE – City Youth Development Coordinator Kristi Wilson (left) chats with Hilhi senior Abiy Welch after the Interviewniversity event. “We try to help make the students comfortable –– help loosen them up before their interviews,” Wilson said. “When they’re all tight and wound up, they won’t give good interviews.”

“The city is always looking for ways to support the Hillsboro School District,” said city Youth Development Coordinator Kristi Wilson. “Providing an opportunity for students to participate in a full hiring process — from application and resume training to a real-life interview experience with professionals from various fields — is one way the staff of the Human Resources Department can share their knowledge and expertise to support students in their next steps after high school.”

Two schools piloted the Interviewniversity program in 2014-15, Nova said. “This year, we had three comprehensive schools and our alternative education program participate because they heard positive feedback from pilot schools.”

Along with city staff and representatives from the Hillsboro Hops baseball team, students met with officials from an eclectic mix of more than 10 local agencies, including Washington County and the school district, the Hillsboro Police Department, the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity West, Portland Community College, and local environmental nonprofit group, SOLVE.

“The intent of the program is to help students attending the event to meet hiring managers and learn about job postings that high school-aged students can actually apply for,” Wilson said. “There are also some opportunities to be set up as a job shadow, or for an informational interview to continue to explore potential career pathways even further.”

Several students said they were given applications for real jobs, others said they were told to begin volunteering to gain work experience.

“Seeing the city, Hillsboro School District, students and local organizations work together to plan an event full of meaningful experiences for students to prepare them for life after high school is an amazing thing to be a part of,” Wilson said.

And Interviewniversity is just one of several outreach programs available to Hillsboro students.

Investinin the future

From the city’s Youth Invasion — a job fair-like event for students held at the city’s Civic Center in the fall — and the mayor’s Youth Advisory Council to the Chamber-partnered School-to-Career program, Hillsboro agencies are offering several outlets to help the city’s future leaders plan their paths to success.

On Feb. 16, the city council unanimously agreed to provide scholarship support for 50 high school students from Hillsboro who take part in Portland Community College’s Future Connect Program, according to city spokesman Patrick Preston.

“This is the fourth year in a row that the council has allocated funding … to support Hillsboro students in the Future Connect program,” Preston said. “Hillsboro has invested a total of $400,000 over the past four years, supporting a total of 200 students with coaching and mentoring at PCC.”

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - Hillsboro Human Resources Analyst Katie Jensen speaks with three Hillsboro high school teens during the Interviewniversity event Feb. 25.

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE – Hillsboro Human Resources Analyst Katie Jensen speaks with three Hillsboro high school students during the Interviewniversity event Feb. 25.

Earlier this year, the council prioritized the city’s continued support for the Future Connect program, which benefits students who are either the first generation in their family to attend college, or who rely on scholarship support to attend school, Preston said.

“Future Connect is an outstanding example of our young people growing and thriving in a supportive learning environment,” said Mayor Jerry Willey. “Hillsboro is proud to be a strong partner in the Future Connect program, along with the Portland Community College Foundation, the cities of Portland and Beaverton, and the State of Oregon.”

Students interested in joining any of the city’s youth programs are encouraged to contact their teacher or college and career councilor at school, and/or visit the district’s College and Career Pathways website at hsd.k12.or.us/Academics/Programs/CollegeandCareerPathways.

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