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Redbank Valley’s Fifth Annual ‘Search for Work Day’ a Major Success
NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT) – There was a bit more traffic than usual in New Bethlehem yesterday as 60 business representatives from as far away as Harrisburg descended upon Redbank Valley High School for Redbank Valley’s fifth annual “Search for Work Day.”
Search for Work Day is a three-week unit that all Redbank Valley seniors undertake as a required portion of their Economics course. The unit is designed to help students prepare for the job search process and help to develop students’ soft skills by having students create professional resumes, cover letters, and complete job applications. Upon completion of their professional documents, students are then matched up with real businesses in which they “apply” for a position within the company.
Yesterday was the culmination of those efforts as students had the opportunity to sit down with three different companies in which they applied for mock interviews. Do not let the term, “mock” fool you, however. Many graduates of Redbank Valley have gained full-time and part-time employment through their interviews at Search for Work Day.
In all, there were 60 representatives from 57 businesses across seven counties in attendance yesterday to conduct the mock interviews.
While businesses from Butler, Venango, Mercer, and Allegheny Counties selflessly gave up their Thursday to travel an hour or more to conduct the mock interviews, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) traveled the furthest. Making the three-hour trip from Harrisburg, the department attended the event to see the unique relationship with Redbank Valley and the community in action.
In October, the department rolled out new standards for Pennsylvania school districts that aim to report student success using more than just test scores. Developed by conversations with hundreds of stakeholders, including businesses, Future Ready PA is the name of the new standards which places a large emphasis in college and career readiness. According to the department, Redbank Valley’s Search for Work Day is a great example of what PDE is looking for with the new standards.
As Redbank Valley’s students spent three hours interviewing and receiving advice from business professionals, it became obvious that the students were aware of how valuable the learning was to their future.
Senior, Colin Sheffer explained that even though he has sat in on multiple interviews in the past, the professionals he sat down with brought new things to light about his interview skills and professional documents.
“Having interviewed with colleges before, the experience was similar to what I expected,” explained Sheffer. “The business representatives were very helpful and it was apparent that their primary goal was to coach you towards success in a real interview and application process.”
“I was surprised at the resources some of the business reps provided for me as a student. Some offered a checklist for preparing for interviews, tips, and strategies for how to approach challenging questions. I was not expecting the depth of the advice we were provided with. Walking away I was very happy with the level of feedback we received.”
“My biggest takeaway was making sure that your materials do not create an unnecessary bias against you from the employer’s perspective. Making sure your resume and cover letter appeal to many different employers rather than just one can be crucial in deciding whether or not you are selected for an interview. For example, showing political or religious engagements from a partisan standpoint could deter certain companies from hiring you.”
Classmate Blaney Brooks said that he not only gained invaluable advice for the job search process, but the event also helped to solidify his plans for life after high school.
“I expected to learn about the career choice that I was matched up with but I ended up learning a lot more from all of the amazing people,” said Brooks. “It really helped me to seal the deal on what I want to do after high school.”
“My biggest takeaway from the day was learning and understanding the different ways I can tackle the obstacles ahead of me.”
Due to such a strong response from businesses desiring to be involved with Search for Work Day, instead of turning away businesses, Redbank Valley juniors were offered the opportunity to take part in the interviews. Tara Hinderliter was one of those juniors, and for her, the experience met her expectations for the day.
“My expectation was to gain a better understanding of how interviews work and to learn what I can do to get a good job,” explained Hinderliter. “My expectations were met, and I was also taught how to improve some of my answers and how to focus on my positives.”
While it was obvious that the students had some major takeaways from the day, the businesses also were impressed with what they saw from the students.
Angie Shirey is the owner of Spero Group LLC, a counseling service located in New Bethlehem. She said that it is a special experience to be able to talk to students about their plans and aspirations.
“It’s a great experience for the students,” said Shirey. “For the community members, it’s a very fulfilling experience to speak with these kids about their ambitions and future plans.”
Dennis Gold, Owner and CEO of Dewatering Services LLC located in Grove City, told exploreClarion.com that it is exciting that Redbank Valley is investing so much in the future workforce.
“Today’s Search for Work event was a wonderful investment in our country’s most precious natural resource, our children,” said Gold. “Redbank Valley High School does a great job with this event. Redbank Valley students are very blessed and fortunate to grow up in and be a part of-of the Redbank Valley community.”
New Bethlehem and Clarion attorney, Sara Seidle Patton took time out of her busy campaigning schedule to help prepare students for their future.
As a first time participant in the Search for Work program, Seidle Patton was impressed by the professionalism of the students she interviewed.
“I was very impressed with the professionalism and dedication of the students,” proclaimed Seidle Patton. “They were engaged in the process and prepared. As an employer, it was encouraging to see. And, I simply enjoyed meeting the students. They had great personalities and so many interesting stories and hobbies to share during our interviews.”
At the end of the day, multiple seniors reported that they were offered employment, internship, and job shadowing opportunities due to their efforts over the last three weeks.
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