Future educators sharpen interview skills with help from Millikin alumni
The phrase "practice makes perfect" can be used for many reasons, especially when it comes to preparing for a job interview. Practice interviews, or mock interviews, not only improve interviewing skills but they can help build confidence going into an actual interview.
Several Millikin University students, who are aspiring to become teachers, put their interviewing skills to the test during the Millikin School of Education's 6th annual Interview Boot Camp held Feb. 27 in the University Commons.
During the boot camp, 20 Millikin graduates, who are currently serving as school principals and superintendents from across Illinois, came back to campus to donate their day and interview several Millikin seniors. The alumni helped the students prepare for what to expect in actual interviews while at the same time providing feedback.
"Our seniors are prepping for the job search beyond graduation and getting their license for teaching," said Dr. Christie Magoulias, director of the School of Education at Millikin. "Some of the outstanding School of Education alumni came back to work with our seniors, particularly in prepping for that job search."
The boot camp was started by a few alumni as a way to give back in their own way to Millikin.
"Some alumni informed us that their board of education said if they find the right candidate for a position to hire them," Dr. Magoulias said. "Other alumni offered their contact information to the students so that they can apply for positions immediately. The boot camp is really important and it's something that makes what we do at the School of Education different from what other programs and institutions do."
Prior to the mock interviews, the Millikin alumni hosted a panel discussion. Some of the topics during the discussion included what to expect as a first-year teacher, differences between schools in large and small markets, and favorite questions to ask during interviews.
"The two important things behind this event are the commitment from our alumni to give back in a really meaningful way that impacts our students, and the intentionality that the School of Education has in the preparation for our upperclassmen as they are getting ready for the job search," Dr. Magoulias said.
Kaream Williams, a senior music education-instrumental major from Waukegan, Ill., was among the students who participated in the boot camp. Williams hopes to teach band and general music while incorporating marching band and pep band.
"The experience was great because we get to see the next step," Williams said. "It's preparing us for the interview process without having to put our career on the line. We also get a foot in the door by making great connections with principals and superintendents."
Emily Lanz, a senior elementary education major from South Elgin, Ill., was anxious for her mock interviews but felt that the alumni were helpful with feedback.
"It's great to have these practice interviews especially for when I walk into an interview for a job I want," Lanz said. "It will be less nerve-wracking after this experience. The administrators did a great job."
Dr. Magoulias noted that this generation of teachers won't have as much of a challenge finding a job, but it's the School of Education's intention to help them find the job that they want.
"We want them to interview well and know how to improve their resume," Dr. Magoulias said. "You have to show what makes you stand out, special and different from everyone else who has graduated with that major along the way. You have to highlight that well in your cover letter, resume and in your interview."