REAL WORLD PREP: TSTC interview practicum sees growth

BY Amanda Sotelo

For the first time in nearly a decade, Texas State Technical College’s Interview Practicum saw its highest number of participants and had to be extended to three days.

The Interview Practicum is hosted every Fall, Spring and Summer Semesters by TSTC’s Industry Relations and Talent Management Office and usually lasts two days.

At least 260 soon-to-be TSTC graduates from 17 programs attended this year’s event that consisted of mock job interviews, resumè building and interview skills workshops.

Each student participated in three rounds of interviews, each 30 minutes long, and is provided constructive feedback on how to improve his/her resumes and interview skills.

“The growth the program has seen is exciting,” said TSTC Industry Relations and Talent Management Director Viviana Espinosa. “This is the highest number of students we’ve ever had participate.”

Espinosa added that she is happy to see an increased amount of faculty gaining awareness of the interview practicum and are taking advantage of it for their students.

“We host these events for our students with the goal of helping them gain the confidence they need for a successful job interview,” said Espinosa. “For some this is their first interview ever and it’s important they practice talking about their skills and themselves. This is the hardest thing to do.”

TSTC Wind Energy Technology student Wade Reynolds said he loves that TSTC holds events like this for its students.

“It’s thoughtful, useful and great all around,” he said. “I’m leaving today’s event more confident and prepared for the future. This was my first interview so now I know what to expect.”

The 21-year-old will be earning his associate degree next month and said he has already begun looking into jobs so the critiques he received were invaluable.

Viviana Aguiniga, TSTC Dental Hygiene student, will also be graduating in April and said the practicum was a great learning experience for her.

“I was so nervous coming in,” she said. “But now I’m leaving with great feedback, advice and more confidence. There’s no doubt that I’m prepared for what’s to come.”

She added that the interview process is no longer unknown territory for her and she is grateful to TSTC for providing this opportunity.

As the number of students who participate in the interview practicum grows, so does the number of volunteers who help coach these students.

More than 120 coaches made up of industry partners and community business leaders conducted 750 interviews during the length of the event, many of which go on to hire TSTC graduates.

Some coaches are seasoned and some are brand new and excited to join TSTC in this effort.

This was the first time Fastenal General Manager Gilbert Garcia. Participated as a coach Fastenal also hires TSTC students for positions at their locations throughout the Rio Grande Valley and Kingsville.

“For me helping students succeed is a team effort and I’m looking forward to being a part of this process,” said Garcia. “TSTC has helped us a lot by sending us great graduates who are eager to learn and have a great work ethic. This is my way of giving back.”

Espinosa said she is looking forward to working closely with all industry partners and local business leaders for future interview practicums or other events such as the upcoming Industry Job Fair.

“We are so appreciative of everyone who comes out to help our students,” she said. “And we look forward to growing these relationships and getting our students placed.”

TSTC’s Industry Job Fair is April 5.

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