Students in a Career Exploration class at Biddeford Regional Center of Technology listen to a presentation from a panel of local professionals. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — Interviewing for a job can be a nerve-wracking experience. You may never get a second chance to make a first impression, but some students from Biddeford High School have the experience to make sure the first impression is a good one.

Tracey Collins, career pathways coordinator for the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology, teaches Career Exploration as well as Career Development to high school students.

The goals of the classes include introducing students to various fields of study and allow students to experience them in “real time” before they graduate, create a career plan for post-secondary education and career, and facilitate growth of soft skills students will need in the workplace such as time management, workplace ethics, communications and financial literacy, said Collins.

Students in Career Exploration participated in a mock interview workshop on Wednesday. Students were paired up with local professionals in careers they were interested in pursuing, and participated in a mock interview for a fictitious company. Students then had the opportunity to be the interviewer and ask questions about the career field they were interested in.

Student Jasmine Brown, a junior at Biddeford High School, wants to teach English in Korea and is also interested in writing. She had prepared questions ahead of time to ask this reporter and another professional she was paired up with, and she said she received a lot of good information. She also said she was a bit nervous going into the interview and talking to someone she’d never met, and she thinks the practice will make participating in real-life interviews easier.

Saco Director of Curriculum and Instruction Julie Smyth, one of the local professionals who participated, said she thought the students were all well prepared.

“To have this experience at your age is a gift,” Smyth told students.

In addition to researching fields they are interested in and interviewing people in these fields, students in the Career Exploration class are required to identify their strengths and interests and complete a one-day job shadow.

“Research shows students who are exposed to career and technical education and identify something they are interested in are more likely to be successful, graduate from high school and have a plan for their future,” said Collins.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 780-9015 or [email protected].

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