Brandon Himes emerged from his interview flashing a huge smile on his face.
"I think it went really well, and if it was a real interview, I would have got a second call," Himes, a senior at Altoona Area High School, said after his interview with Jeff Cipriani, general manager of the Hampton Inn.
Himes was one of more than 150 Altoona students participating in mock interviews Tuesday with 31 local employers - up from 15 last year - in a program organized by the School-to-Career program.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Senior Brandon Himes (left) interviews with Hampton Inn General Manager Jeff Cipriani during a training exercise Tuesday at Altoona Area High School.
"The goal of this program is so students can learn what employers are looking for. They receive positive feedback and tips on how they can improve," said Pam Ergler, School-to-Career program coordinator.
The students are prepared for the mock interviews, said Robin DeShong, high school chemistry and physics teacher.
The students have studied how to write a resume, how to interview and have done some role-playing to get out some of the jitters.
"As a science teacher, this is like my lab day where they get to practice what they have learned," DeShong said.
The participating students were 10th-grade academic and general education students along with career prep students.
Employers enjoy participating in the annual event.
"The kids are our future. It is to any business' benefit to help these children in any way we can to help them know what businesses need and what to expect," said Kathy Hughes, savings officer at ARC Federal Credit Union.
"It is a nice program, and we meet a lot of young students. This helps them get over some of the fears they may have, said Altoona graduate John Gearhart, branch manager of Whitehill Lighting & Supplies, a Division of Wesco Distribution Inc. "They learn what questions we ask. I look at their resumes and talk to them about appearance and what an employer is looking for."
Hoss's Steak and Sea House has hired students as a result of the program.
"I jot down the names of the kids I interview so if they come and apply, I know what I am getting," said Mark Dubyak, general manager at Hoss's Steak and Sea House, Valley View Boulevard and Seventh Street. "I have hired at least four kids that I have interviewed through this program."
Other students said the program was quite helpful.
"It gave me some insight to what interviews would be like in the future. He pointed out things to work on such as eye contact and looked at my resume and told me some things I could work on," said sophomore Alois Steinbugl, who interviewed with Tim Guyer of NPC Inc. "I have had a few real interviews, but this mock interview was very helpful and a little less stressful."
Senior culinary arts student Janee Hart said her interview with Vicky Mirenda of The Casino at Lakemont Park went "fantastic."
"It was very professional. I asked her about managing a banquet facility. I learned something about that," said Hart, who plans to attend Johnson and Wales College of Culinary Arts in Charlotte, N.C. "I would suggest other students do this. It settles your nerves if you hadn't done one before, and it shows you what to expect."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.