Employment 101: Students gain confidence, skills at interview practicum

BY Amanda Sotelo

Faculty and staff at Texas State Technical College do more than provide technical training for students, they also help prepare them for the interviews that get them jobs in industry.

The Interview Practicum started back in 2009 and is hosted three times a year by TSTC’s Industry Relations and Talent Management Office. The two-day event consists of mock job interviews and resume building. To prepare, students attend resume and interview skills workshops.

Director of TSTC’s Industry Relations and Talent Management Office Viviana Espinoza said that in the month leading up to practicum she and her colleague conducted 22 classrooms workshops to prepare students for the mock interviews.

“Our goal is to help every student who participates gain the confidence needed to have a successful interview,” said Espinoza.

More than 120 volunteers from the local business community and TSTC gathered to coach and lead mock interviews for more than 150 students from nine different programs who will soon be graduating.

The students participate in three rounds of interviews, each 30 minutes long, and are provided constructive feedback from their coach on how to improve their resumes and interview skills.

“For some of our students this will be their very first interview,” said Espinoza. “It’s important they practice talking about themselves and their skills because that is one of the hardest things to do.”

Long-time volunteer and retired Harlingen educator Diane Dizayee said she loves what the program stands for and enjoys helping students gain the skills they need to receive the jobs they deserve.

“I love the program. It is such a blessing for students to have this teachable moment,” she said. “These students are going to be great employees and I’m glad to have a little part in that.”

Telecommunications Technology student Monica Palomo said the experience she received at practicum has given her an insight on what she needs to improve to have an effective job interview.

“I got a lot of positive feedback,” she said. “The two big things I’m taking with me today are that first impressions are made immediately and I have to get better at talking about my skills.”

Palomo said she is going to keep practicing so she can get better and she is happy that TSTC holds events like this to give her the opportunity to improve and prepare.

For more information on Interview Practicum or to become a volunteer coach call the Talent Management Office at 956-364-4940.