Students Learn About First Impressions, Networking, Job Interviews And More
By Tiffany Rider - Senior Writer
April 09, 2013 - As a way to help students learn how to get hired in today’s tough job market, Polytechnic High School’s Pacific Rim Academy partnered with the Long Beach Youth Opportunity Center and Long Beach Junior Achievement to host the inaugural Pacific Rim Academy Jobs Conference last month.
Representatives from local businesses were grouped into teams to participate in four breakout sessions at the jobs conference, held at the high school. Junior and senior students participating in the conference rotated from one session to another to get advice on: how to make a good first impression in person and on social media; how to structure a solid resume and properly complete a job application; how to make connections through networking to find unadvertised jobs; and how to successfully complete a job interview.
Joshua Owen, CEO of Ability Tri-Modal, was one of the participating business representatives that day. He has been involved with the Pacific Rim Academy for more than a decade and said he was thrilled to work with students on networking. “I think one of the biggest things to instill in kids is confidence,” Owen told the Business Journal. “If kids have more confidence in themselves it’s going to make it a lot easier for them to make it. . . . Networking is essential because working with the Long Beach Chamber and working with the Rotary Club, I’ve found that I’m picking up the phone and connecting people more than I’m actually having to ask them for help. But there are those times when you need to ask for help.”
Owen participated in the breakout session focused on interviewing, along with Teri Carpenter of Pioneer Electronics, Kyle Yamanoha of Matson and Uduak Ntuk of Long Beach Gas & Oil. Carpenter, who has 15 years of experience working in international logistics, said this was the first time she had volunteered in a classroom environment. “I love working for kids,” Carpenter said. “I coach junior [roller] derby. I think it’s great that we have people taking time out of their day to help the next generation of workers to just get a heads up on what they’re going to be confronted with in a professional environment.”
As a member of the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network Youth Council, a career day speaker at local high schools and a parent of a soon-to-be high school student, Ntuk said he is very used to interacting with kids. “I know what YOLO means, and swag,” he joked. “I was an academic advisor at Long Beach State in the college of engineering. I created people’s graduation plans and career plans and grad school applications. I was a corporate recruiter with Chevron for five years. I interviewed interns and full-time hires. I’m very familiar on what you need to do to have a good interview, how to network, how to present yourself, what matters and what doesn’t matter.”
One of the students participating in the breakout session was junior Savannah Sisawang. She got involved in Interact – the high school version of Rotary – when she was a freshman, and served as the club’s president last year. “I think it’s really been a good event for everybody,” she said. “Learning leadership skills and qualities is a really good thing in life. Networking can get you into certain businesses that you never thought you would get into. Interact has been helping me a lot with that.” While her dream is to become a singer and actor, Sisawang said she would want to start her own veterinary clinic “if that doesn’t work out.”
The event organizer, Pacific Rim Academy’s Business Teacher Libby Huff, holds an MBA and used to work at DeVry. She learned about the academy through its founder, Greta Budai. “[The academy] was designed to help average kids gain practical, real-world experience right along with all of their academic programs. I was so impressed with the stuff that they had done that I actually came over and applied outside of the normal way you’re supposed to transfer into a school. I really believe in a practical, hands-on approach for learning.”
The Pacific Rim Academy was established at Polytechnic High School in 1992. The now four-year program focuses on college preparatory classes and career courses in international trade and languages. Only 60 students are accepted into the academy each year. The academy works closely with Long Beach Rotary, the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce International Business Association, Long Beach Junior Achievement and the Long Beach Youth Opportunity Center.
Since Huff came on board with the academy, the number of classes and field trips has expanded. The goal, she said, is to engage the students in things they already want to do – be professional, dress up and be treated as adults. “It’s interesting to watch these kids because some of the stuff they know, it’s patchy,” Huff said. “For example, they don’t know how to address an envelope because they don’t mail things,” instead using e-mail or social media to interact with others. “But they’re dying to get out there and get started,” she said. “I’m really excited for all of them.”