Skip to main content

St. John fifth-grade students prepared for job simulation interviews

Aug 02, 2022 10:41AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Many area schools, including St. John the Baptist Elementary, use Junior Achievement’s financial literacy, work and career readiness and entrepreneurship curriculum to positively impact the lives of fifth-grade students.

The capstone of the program, one many students recall fondly long after their high school graduation, is JA Biztown, a simulated city where students play a role as citizens, workers and consumers in their community. Through the experience, students learn to operate banks, manage restaurants and businesses, learn the business side of education, write articles and even be mayor.

“We don’t just have the experience, we prepare students for it beforehand, and we discuss it after,” fifth-grade teacher Marilyn Miller said. “Students use their writing ability to create their own resumes and fill out applications and then, they learn how to interview with a real human resource team. Afterward, we discuss the roles they had at JA City and how they relate to a free enterprise system, their rights and responsibilities as citizens and working for businesses and their understanding of money management and soft skills needed in the workplace.”

Fifth-grade teacher Janet Tetzloff arranges for all students to meet with the human resource leadership team from Master Control, who conducts the five- to 10-minute mock interviews and rank their responses. They also provide students feedback on their interview skills.

This year, it was back in person after last year, having virtual interviews and virtual JA Biztown.

“It’s the first time in three years so we’re picking up where we left off,” Tetzloff said. “In 2020, we got the interview training in, but then, the pandemic hit.”

Fifth-grader Abby Hankins was excited for her interview.

“I wrote my resume and knew to ask some questions,” she said. “They asked me why I wanted the job, what my experience was and what I could bring to the position. I was a little nervous, but it was fun.”

Her classmate, Ashlyn Trost said preparing for the interview helped her to remain calm.

“I was asked what three words describe me best, what is needed to be a good team member and if I like working on computers and what my experience is,” she said. “It was fun; I’d like to do it again. If I did, I’d probably talk more about my career goals.”

Master Control Chief Culture Officer Alicia Garcia said that she was impressed with the students, who started out with a firm handshake and were dressed professionally.

“They had great eye contact; they’ve learned that is so powerful,” she said. “They’re engaged, smiling and asked questions about what I do, or the skills that they need in the position and how we mentor them in their positions. The best question I had was, ‘What does my company do to include and support women and diversify our employees?’ It showed a real sensitivity and awareness. We also ask students about working on computers and if they know both Mac and PCs as there is a need for crossover. We listen and see that they’re prepared. It’s a great learning experience for them.”

Master Control Senior Communications Specialist Hannah Polus noticed good eye contract and a real interest in learning the interviewing skills.

“I’ve had students apply to be a CFO, a sales manager and a store manager and so I ask them why they’re interested in the positions and how they are qualified,” she said. “It’s been great to see how they take the activities they’re involved in and apply them to the positions. It shows they’re thinking and taking pride in what they do.”

Fifth-grader Monica Keegan was at ease as Master Control Corporate Operations Project Manager Tad Despain interviewed her for a camera operator/editor/on-air host position.

“I like being on camera or behind it, so I was comfortable and actually, having fun even though I was a little nervous,” she said. “I like talking to people so it seemed more like a conversation and sharing with her about myself and learning about her as well as asking more about the position.”

Despain was impressed.

“She was on top of it,” she said. “I could tell she did her research so she knew a lot about working with cameras and film. She was prepared and was confident and was thorough. I’ve really been impressed with how students took these interviews seriously. They’ve all been good. Through this process, they’re really mastering interview skills.”

That’s the goal that Tetzloff, Miller and the fifth-grade team had for the students.

“Our students are learning job skills in preparing an application and resume and interviewing that they’ll use the rest of their lives; they’re not too young to learn these skills,” Tetzloff said. “I’ve had students in the past use the skills when they apply for their first jobs and come back to thank me for this experience. Even learning to look someone in the eye and thank them for their time can help them right now in any form of communication. Learning these skills and having an incredible opportunity at JA City is an experience they’ll always remember.”