Future Lopes get early help on job searches
By Janie Magruder
GCU News Bureau
Filling out an employment application and interviewing for a position are familiar skills to Angel Salgado, one of 17 high school students who on Saturday attended the first of three workshops in a new jobs-preparation program at Grand Canyon University.
Salgado already had learned the basics of job searches in his business and marketing classes at Maryvale High and landed a position last summer selling subscriptions to The Arizona Republic. But Salgado, who has been admitted to GCU and plans to study business or engineering when he arrives on campus next fall, still found GCU’s new initiative, Jump Start to Jobs, informative and valuable.
“What I liked the most was the interaction,” he said. “We spoke with each other and weren’t afraid to ask questions. Nine times out of 10 you are shy to speak in public, but today most of us were able to communicate.”
For the event, GCU’s Career Services department created a comfortable workshop environment in GCU Library at the Student Union. Teenagers from six different campuses in the Phoenix Union High School District learned how to get a head start on the competition for jobs, find employment and bank a little money before college. Jump Start to Jobs is a partnership between Career Services and GCU’s enrollment office.
“We’re at a time when it can be a tougher transition from high school to college and from college to the real world, and this really bridges the gap for them and establishes that connection with our enrollment department and Career Services before they even become students,” said Aysha Bell, an adviser in Career Services who created the program and is leading the free workshops for admitted incoming freshmen.
The teens on Saturday learned about the job-search process and building their resumés. But they will return to campus for two more sessions, “Interview preparation and dress for success” on Saturday, Nov. 22, and “Career compass and mock interviews” on Saturday, Dec. 6. The group of students is scheduled to attend the Dec. 15 men’s basketball game at GCU Arena and receive recognition for their efforts.
“We had brainstormed ways to offset the cost of tuition and wondered if, before students start here, we could give them opportunities to work part time and get some income and save money for college or pay fees or whatever they choose,” said Jacqueline Smith, director of Career Services.
Smith said students also are acquiring “soft skills” that they may not learn and practice in high school, such as self-confidence, eye contact, strong handshakes and dressing for success.
“That will differentiate our students from the competition,” Smith said. “We want employers to see our students. And we want our students to know that this is safe place to fail (learning job skills) rather than doing it out in the workforce.”
In just two hours on Saturday, Bell covered job search tips, from locating job ads and filling out applications — (“Honesty, honesty, honesty,” she said) — to common-sense etiquette such as having an appropriate email address and voicemail greeting and getting rid of the ring-back tones on your phone.
“Our goal is to help you transition into purposeful careers,” Bell said, “and our job is to provide you the keys to do so. By being here today, you are one step ahead of the game.”
She then turned to resumé writing, teaching the students how to craft a professional summary statement at the top of the page and use powerful words to describe personal qualities, achievements and abilities. The students were given time to begin writing the statements, with help from enrollment and Career Services staff, including Emily Montoya, Bianca Shaw and David Orosco. Bell ended the workshop by assigning homework: finish those resumés.
It was all new material to Bianka Salomon, a Maryvale High senior who plans to study criminal justice at GCU, and has never held a job. She said she was excited about coming back for the other two sessions and, especially, about attending college in the fall.
“We took a tour this morning and saw dorm rooms and the pools, and they told us about creating our own clubs on campus,” Salomon said. “I thought that was really interesting.”
Reach Janie Magruder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-639-8018.