BERLIN -Berlin High School sophomores were given a lesson on personal branding while searching for a job last month thanks to Junior Achievement.
“I think it went well,” said Nicole Dioro, director of education and specialty programs at Junior Achievement. “…everybody looked pretty engaged and conversation was flowing.”
Junior Achievement, a national organization with it’s Southwestern New England branch headed by BHS alumnus Jeremy Race, aims to prepare students for the working world by using community volunteers and mentors to teach job readiness skills to students.
The organization has been involved with the school all year with a unique pilot program of theirs aimed at teaching certain skills to certain grade levels, with the hopes that if it continues, students will progress through the different skill programs as they progress through their grade levels.
It was brought to the school by Chris Edge, economic development director for the town, with no cost, as a way to introduce local business and careers for which college may not be the best path for.
“We actually had the students act as an HR recruiter reviewing three candidates,” said Diorio of the recent personal branding program.
Students reviewed a digital profile, a cover letter and a resume of the candidate before filling out an evaluation rubric and then discussing their thoughts with mentors from the class.
The mentors were a mix of Junior Achievement employees, but also local business owners such as Richard Pentore for Law Offices of Richard H. Pentore, Dave Cavedon of Cuts of Wood LLC and Efferin Valentin of Valentin Karate, who all also shared some of their own personal experiences.
“We had (chosen) Allyson as well, mainly because she was by far the most professional of any of the candidates,” said a student in a class led by Sumayya Ayoub of Junior Achievement.
One of the other two candidates that weren’t chosen as the best had included his nickname “The Dude” on his resume, and the other one didn’t have much of an education while being a mess on social media, the student added.
At the end of Ayoub’s class, she reminded students to not use color and keep their resume’s and cover letters of traditional formats; honing the soft skills of working well with others, showing up on time and dressing well; and explained the rigorous interview process that may come up, like at Junior Achievement and what her brother went through for his HVAC apprenticeship.
“I can’t stress enough that the job market is competitive, internships are competitive,” she said, reminding students to keep busy or be prepared to explain any gaps between school or work.
“The kids were very receptive it was interesting to see their comments about the different (candidates),” said Elaine Pavasaris of Home Sweet Home Realty, who mentored one class. “These are real life skills they’re going to need going forward. It’s so competitive.”
Earlier in the year a workshop on interviewing skills was held for 11th graders and a resume workshop for ninth graders was recently held. A job shadow, in which students visit a business to see what all a business really entails, said Diorio, were also held in April at the Bushnell and Comast.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.