February 26, 2016 at 2:00pm
Dane Lisser

Many students who are entering the professional world want to be as prepared as possible for interviews and networking opportunities. Students in Millikin University's School of Education were able to get a jump-start on developing their interviewing skills during the School's 4th Annual Interview Boot Camp on Feb. 23.

More than 30 seniors were able to practice their interviewing techniques with over 20 school administrators, and Millikin alumni, from across Illinois. The alumni helped the students prepare for what to expect in actual interviews.

"Millikin graduates, who are now school administrators, came back to campus to donate their day and help with the event," said Steffanie Seegmiller, coordinator of clinical practice for the School of Education. "Each student had two to three individual interviews with our alumni."

Millikin School of Education

The event included a panel discussion that covered topics on what to expect as a first-year teacher and how to stand out when it comes to networking.

"An opportunity like this event is rare," said Seegmiller. "The administrators want to see Millikin graduates succeed and find jobs. They conduct a real interview with the students and then spend a few minutes giving them feedback. It prepares our candidates for the interview process and their journey to becoming an educator." 

The idea for the boot camp started with a few alumni wanting to give back in their own way to Millikin.

Millikin alumnus Tom Mahoney '90, superintendent of CUSD #220 in Oregon, Ill., said, "We reached back out to the School of Education and started brainstorming ideas on what we could do to give back. The boot camp experience is not only about being prepared but also knowing the content of what you say and how it impacts the interviewer's perception of what you say."

Millikin School of Education  

Mahoney says the alumni were very impressed with the students and their preparation for the boot camp.  

"The quality of education the students are getting now at Millikin is just as good if not stronger when I was there," said Mahoney. "The candidates were very prepared, had good depth of knowledge, and put thought into the information they shared with us."

It prepares our candidates for the interview process and their journey to becoming an educator.

A number of Millikin students felt the event was a great confidence booster for future interviews.

"The event was great because it actually felt that I was having an interview," said Shanel Ivy, an early childhood education major from Chicago, Ill. "It brought out a lot of confidence in myself and it was a great opportunity to get my name out there. To actually know what the principals and superintendents want from their teachers is great."

Millikin School of Education

Jacob Kueker, a physical education secondary teaching major at Millikin, thought the event was very helpful.

"The alumni provided us a lot of input on what we needed to do and gave advice on the impact of networking," said Kueker, a senior from Red Bud, Ill. "I feel prepared going into an interview after having this experience."

Even though the interviews gave the students a chance to receive critiques about their interviewing techniques and ways to improve, it was also an opportunity for the alumni to find candidates for future positions.

"This is a culminating activity that goes hand-in-hand with our student teaching," said Steffanie Seegmiller. "The students are living out all the theories and practice we talk about in the classroom. Having the opportunity to interview with administrators who are in the field and connected is an amazing way of living it out."

Millikin School of Education

Click the following links to view coverage of the interview boot camp from WCIA-TV, WAND-TV, WSOY-AM and the Herald & Review.