Cheektowaga Central senior Maribeth Stadelmeyer has known since she was in fifth grade that she wanted to enter the medical field.
For the others who aren't so decisive, Cheektowaga Central High School instituted a series of activities when the current seniors were freshmen to help prepare them for life beyond high school. The final step was a 15-minute mock interview with a professional in the student's area of interest, which took place Wednesday and Thursday. The students got immediate feedback and will receive an evaluation filled out by their interviewers.
Stadelmeyer, who plans to go to Canisius College to study biology, was interviewed by a nurse. Since there weren't any jobs involved, students were told how to sell themselves and their strengths to the interviewer.
"I told her I was a very responsible and dependable person," Stadelmeyer said. "She gave me recommendations on what I could do."
"The kids were a little nervous," said Cheektowaga Police Officer David Stevens, but he added, "I think they have done their homework and prepared for the interview process."
Cheektowaga was one of 17 districts in the state piloting the career development curriculum four years ago. These seniors were the first to take CPR (Career and Personal Resources) for Life as freshmen. In that course, they began to complete their commencement level career plan, and they continued to update it.
"It's the same concept as a journal," Assistant Superintendent Delia G. Bonenberger said.
The district has implemented the career plans in all grade levels, including the primary grades. The younger pupils are asked to draw a picture of something they like to do and what they want to be when they grow up. The plans are updated each year.
"It never, ever is meant to say every senior should know what to do next year," Bonenberger said. "We're not trying to say you have to decide, but ultimately what you decide will be influenced by your experiences."
Senior Steven Sonricker said he had help from his guidance teacher in deciding to go into electrical engineering. His first choice as a freshman was medicine, and in CPR for Life, he shadowed someone at Hospice Buffalo.
His career choice changed when he took biology.
"It was by far the worst of the four sciences. I realized I didn't like biology," he said, adding that he is attracted to the mathematical side of science. "Once I hit physics last year, I knew what I wanted to do."
"We have encouraged teachers to use any opportunity to help students be aware of career fields so everything fits together," Bonenberger said.
Maribeth Stadelmeyer said many of the seniors have been on job interviews. "I think this would have been nice to do with juniors," she said.
Sonricker said interview experience would have helped him before he had his first job interview at Wegmans.
"I was very nervous," he said.
Stevens, who is a DARE officer, said the more experience teenagers have in interviewing, the better they will do.
"I told them be yourself. Let your personality shine through. Do your homework on the company," Stevens said.