As spring blooms in San Benito County, students of Mike Fisher’s culinary classes at San Benito High School are taking to the streets and their phones to complete their Informational Interview Career Project. The project is focused on giving his students practice for entering the workforce. Activities include learning to create a resume, cold calling an employer and presenting oneself professionally.
“Fifty percent of students at some point this year asked me for a job at my restaurant. I can’t give everyone in my class a job, but I can help coach them,” Fisher said. “Employers were also asking about high school students who could work and I put the pieces together between the employers that need employees and the high school students looking for a job.”
Using his own experience of hiring at his restaurant Fisher’s, as well as talking to other local restaurants, Fisher realized that while many students wanted to work, most did not have the basic tools necessary to secure employment.
Fisher contacted local restaurants to see if they would be willing to give his students the opportunity to do an interview with them as part of the informal interview project. With 22 establishments on board, Fisher then focused on helping students prepare.
“I want them to present themselves professionally when they seek a job and walk through the doors,” Fisher said. “The main goal of the project is to inspire high school students to go out and get a job—to not be afraid of their first interview.”
San Benito High School junior Christian Oseguera is one of Fisher’s students. Though he originally signed up for the culinary class to explore his passion for cooking and learning about new foods and cultures, Oseguera saw in the interview project a chance to receive feedback and to grow from it.
“I feel like you should never pass up a good opportunity to learn more,” Oseguera said. “I really like that I will get more experience. If I keep getting more interviews it will make me more prepared.”
Oseguera was quick to share how he and other students in the class look to Fisher as a positive role model in their lives.
“He is a great example and very passionate.”
Fisher found his own mentor in restaurant owner Mike Howard of the Inn at Tres Pinos, where he worked his first job as a teenager. Fisher said Howard not only helped advise him on the interview project, but also agreed to be a participating employer.
Businesses involved with the project fill out a report after interviewing a student from Fisher’s class. These reports give students immediate feedback on questions such as “Did the interviewee take the time to dress professionally for the interview?” “Did the interviewee have at least three good questions for you?” and “Did the interviewee shake your hand and thank you for your time?”
Said Fisher: “I want to create a line out the door with people ready to work. Good employees are just as important as good customers.”
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