Local high school students learned how to land a job during a two-day Career Camp at the Abel Maldonado Community Youth Center in Santa Maria.
Sixteen students -- all female and representing Santa Maria Valley high schools -- received training in how to write a resume, develop strong entry-level job skills and prepare for a first interview.
The city's Recreation and Parks Department hosted the camp, held Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
During each day, students occupied three rooms at the center, located on South McClelland Street, with one room providing a space where area employers conducted mock job interviews with students and provided them with two minutes of feedback.
Career Camp attendee Oralia Velasco from Santa Maria High managed to squeeze in a workshop before interviewing for a job at Chipotle on Tuesday.
“I heard of it and one of my teachers encouraged me to come (to the camp) and it landed on a perfect date: I have my first-ever job interview today, and it’s preparing me for that job interview,” the junior said. “It teaches you a lot about how to prepare for a job.”
Velasco was anxious about trying to attend both the training and her job interview, but her attitude changed during the morning session inside the youth center.
“They’re telling me I’m going to do fine. Hopefully, I get the practice before I head over there,” Velasco said, smiling.
Students like Velasco participated in a panel on Tuesday where they explored various careers.
They also learned how to put together resumes, cover letters and properly prepare before trying to land a job.
Pioneer Valley High sophomore Katharine Mendoza came away with a better understanding of how to put together and submit a resume.
“Before this, I actually submitted [a resume], but after reviewing all of the steps they gave us, I found out I did it all wrong,” Mendoza said with a laugh. “So this taught me a little more to better understand to sign, review and do my resume and to volunteer more.”
During the Career Camp, Mendoza learned that her experience in babysitting to help families could be useful in helping her find a future job or career.
“They showed that if you volunteer more, you don’t have to have work experience to get the job you want,” Mendoza explained. "It’s better to list what you do. For example, I put that I babysit and I was told to put the characteristics I do. So [I put] I take care of them, feed them and supervise."
Righetti High junior Natalie Garcia heard about the Career Camp from her older sister who works for the city of Santa Maria.
Garcia works as a part-time waitress, but she said she still learned useful tools for future interviews.
“It teaches us a lot about getting your first job and how to be interviewed, basically what to say and what not to say," Garcia said.
The top message Garcia gained: Don’t just zero in on one career. Broaden your horizons.
“What you think you want to do is what you may not end up doing. They suggest to explore your options and to open your mind,” Garcia said. “It’s the big thing I’ve taken from it. This camp has taught me that I can do more and explore new things.”