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Interviews get students ready for real deal

Area companies visit Reynolds High during career event
by: John Klicker, Nelson Gonzalez, 18, has a mock interview with Chuck Garner, CEO of Oregonians Credit Union, during Reynolds High’s event Wednesday, April 16. Gonzalez did so well in the interview that he was encouraged to submit an application.

FAIRVIEW - Hey kids, that fast food job you have may put you on the fast track to success, according to career experts at Reynolds High School.

'If you can make it in a fast food restaurant for a year, you can make it anywhere,' said Sherri Luru, Pathway internship assistant (Reynolds students must complete a 'Career Pathway' major based on their academic experience and career interest, according to the district).

Organizing orders, manning a cash register and dealing with complaining customers involve skills that can be used in banking and other jobs, Luru noted during the third day of mock interviews at the school, April 14-16.

Janet Strong, business and finance instructor, added that when creating résumés, students should list experience and skills they might overlook, including babysitting, landscaping, volunteer activities and courses they have taken in foreign languages.

'When you're babysitting, that's a really responsible position,' she said.

The mock interview event drew about 100 students as well as representatives of hospitality, finance and information technology businesses, from area credit unions to local hotels. Students, dressed in professional attire, were interviewed by companies' representatives and were given feedback on how they conducted themselves during their meetings with employers. A handful of students were offered internships with various companies as well.

'This is the best opportunity I think they have to hear from a real business professional about how well they do in an interview,' Strong said.

Chuck Garner, president of Oregonians Credit Union, was duly impressed.

'They're very well prepared,' he said.

In particular, he noted that he enjoyed talking to Carmen Chavira, 17, a junior, whom he said had a firm handshake and an ability to give detailed answers. During his interview with Carmen, he found out she had spoken in front of large groups of people at her church.

'You don't mind talking in front of a hundred people?' he asked.

'Not if I'm prepared,' she replied with a chuckle.

When asked to list her strengths, Carmen said she possessed honesty and integrity.

'You'd be a good bookkeeper,' Garner said. 'You probably wouldn't walk off with the money!'

After the interview, Carmen said she hopes to forge a path in the financial world.

'There's always going to be bankers and tellers,' she said, noting she hopes a stable financial career can help support her adventurous dream of becoming a missionary.

Nelson also interviewed with the credit union, and noted he pointed out that as an employee of Subway Restaurants, he's handled an array of customers as well as lots of money. He acknowledged that his greatest weakness as a worker is leaving any emotional problems he might be experiencing on a certain day behind him as he works.

'I don't want to put customers in a bad mood,' Nelson said.

He added that he speaks Spanish as well as English, which could help him when dealing with Spanish-speaking customers at a credit union. He's also used to juggling various tasks and being a bit of a troubleshooter.

Both students said they felt they had done well overall in their interviews, and Garner said he was glad he came to meet the Reynolds students.

'Ninety percent of them we would take in an internship,' he said.

Luru said she was happy to give area employers a chance to meet the young men and women.

'This is an opportunity for an employer to see that there are some bright stars here,' she said.

Career fair

The Mt. Hood Community College Career Planning and Counseling Center is hosting its Career Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, in the College Center, 26000 S.E. Stark St.

The fair offers students and community members the opportunity to meet with employers who are hiring. More than 25 local employers are expected to attend the fair, including KGW Channel 8, Radio Disney, Maxim Medical Staffing, Portland Police, Gresham Fire and Emergency Services, Comcast and Sage Software.

For more information, call the Career Planning and Counseling Center at 503-491-7432.