Career view

Bethany Bivens thought she’d enjoy her day out of school on Tuesday by going to a job interview.

Bivens, a senior at Challenger Early College High School in Hickory, has been on fall break this week, but she didn’t mind the trip to Catawba Valley Community College on Tuesday for a mock interview with a social service professional.

“I’m not used to talking about myself that much, but I enjoyed it and thought it was really interesting,” Bivens said. “It was fun.”

Bivens was one of more than 150 area students to attend an Education Matters Career Prep Conference at CVCC on Tuesday. About 51 Challenger students took time from their fall break to attend the conference that also saw high schoolers from Newton-Conover, Hickory and Hickory Career & Arts Magnet high schools.

The inaugural conference was aimed at “planting the seeds early” for students about to enter college or career pathways, said Tracy Hall, executive director of Education Matters in Catawba Valley.

In addition to mock interviews, students participated in a CVCC Career Center seminar, two human resources workshops and an educational information fair. Students also got to interact informally with members of the Hickory Young Professionals group during the conference.

The mock interview and human resources workshops were conducted by real professionals in Catawba County. Some professionals worked for the county while others were from municipalities and businesses in the area. The professionals make up the Education Matters partnership that includes about 135 businesses, Hall said.

Some of the businesses with officials on hand Tuesday included LEE Industries, Vanguard Furniture and CenturyLink.

CVCC President Dr. Garrett Hinshaw said the conference provides experience for students that will be helpful to them in the future.

“These results are going to be shown 5, 10 and 15 years down the line,” Hinshaw said, adding that students at the conference are part of the Education Matters pilot group initiated in the fall of 2009.

Hinshaw said he wishes he had the mock interview and seminar training when he was in high school.

“With an interview, there’s always that fear factor, but this is getting them that experience early on and is giving them the experience to compete for those jobs,” he said. “They are getting positive critical feedback about their portfolios and interviews for when they do apply for real jobs after they get their degree.”

Devin Carr and Darren Barr, both seniors at Challenger, thought the mock interviews were “easy,” but they appreciated their significance for future career opportunities.

Carr – who wants to attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Appalachian State University or the University of North Carolina at Charlotte – said the interview gave him a good idea of what to expect in the future.

Bivens interviewed with a member of Catawba County Social Services.

She said in addition to talking about her future goals, she was questioned about her strengths, weaknesses and personality.

“I know what to expect and what questions to expect now,” Bivens said.

“I feel more confident on how to portray myself during an interview now.

I think it will help me have a positive interview in the future.”