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Impressing Judges in "The Job" - from The Messenger

October 15, 2016

By JOE SUTTER

Tsonda Martin stood in front of her peers in Decker Auditorium Friday, preparing to answer a job interview question.

She had just 30 seconds to impress the four judges, who sat with their backs to her. The judges would turn around when they heard an answer they liked.

The activity is modeled after a popular singing show, but it's called "The Job," and was a way to teach kids valuable interviewing skills, said Samantha Pingel, intermediary network specialist at Iowa Central Community College.

"It's a fun twist to learn interviewing skills, because many of them have never been through an interview before at this time," Pingel said. "And what's more fun than doing a game show and giving away prizes?"

It was the third year the annual Career Fair has been held at Iowa Central, Pingel said, and it grows larger every year.

In addition to Fort Dodge Senior High, St. Edmond Catholic Schools and Southeast Valley, students arrived from St. Mary's Catholic Schools in Storm Lake and from Alta-Aurelia-about 1,600 kids total-for the event all morning Friday and half of the afternoon.

"Basically career day is to help students get exposed to different careers in our community," Pingel said, "as well as hopefully make better post-secondary decisions.

"Kids only know what their parents have ever done, so we want to expose them to the career options here in hopes they'll stay local. Then we can recruit for our own workforce."

About 100 people come in from area businesses to help teach the kids, and 300 Iowa Central staff also give their time, she said. It's all done with close cooperation with the schools.

"This day wouldn't be possible without all the support from the local schools and their input, because we go to monthly meetings with the schools and they tell us what they need," Pingel said.

"The Job" is a new event, and at the end all the contestants will be asked a final question-why should I hire you? The best answer wins a scholarship to Iowa Central.

The event was held in three different locations due to logistics and the large number of students. In Decker Auditorium, Mitchell Emery from Fort Dodge Senior High took the ending prize.

"That last part definitely got me shaking," he said after coming off the stage.

Emery won the judges over with his passion while describing his dream of starting a longboard company, something he's wanted since he learned about them.

"I just respect the whole thing about longboarding, who longboards, the entire culture of it," Emery said. "I thought it would be such a cool thing to be immersed in this culture of wood and wooden wheels."

Martin, a senior from FDSH, also was praised for her passion-getting the judges to turn around when she spoke of the little extra things she does at work to have a good time and keep her customers happy.

Judge Luke Palmer, general affairs manager of CJ Bio America, told her that not every job can be something you are passionate about, but employers are always looking for passionate workers.

In addition to meeting with local business owners, students learned about resumes, scholarships, and how to best use social media.

That was what freshman Daytoria Johnson, from FDSH, remembered.

"I learned don't post bad stuff online because it will set a bad reputation for you," Johnson said. "And I learned how there's a lot of classes here for art."

All three sessions were informative, Johnson said.

Shariah Smith, a senior at FDSH, didn't get to attend the session she wanted, but still learned a lot from the day.

Smith wants to run her own business, inspired by the organization Athletics for Education and Success.

"You know Charles Clayton?" Smith said. "I really liked his program since I was a kid. He's someone I really look up to. So I want to go to a bigger city and do something like that, for the poor kids, to make it easier for them to get recruited and to get to college."

She's been in the program since third grade, joined the AFES basketball team in fifth grade, and began thinking about how she could do something like it in seventh.

Friday, though, Smith said lines were too long at the business sessions, so she ended up in one about accounting.

"I don't like accounting, I don't like numbers," she said. "Honestly I wasn't going to show up, but I have perfect attendance. And I heard there was going to be Oreo fluff, so I came.

"I'm actually happy I did. I don't know about the FAFSA and stuff -that is stuff I need to be aware of."

The day also featured a motivational speaker, something new this year, Pingel said. Jeremy Bout, from Edge Factor, was asked to come especially because of his focus on manufacturing.

The day ended with a round of Family Feud, students versus teachers, and six lucky students walked away with free plane tickets from Air Choice One.

"We've had a lot of sponsors this year with the career day, from local business to donate prizes," Pingel said. "We have a great community we live in. We have a great high school staff that is supportive of this day, and a great staff that puts it on.

"It's a really big event for us."

"Impressing judges in 'The Job'" The Messenger 15 Oct 2016: A1

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