GM execs visit school to help students prepare for career search

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published October 11, 2011

 GM representative Maureen Berndtson conducts a mock interview with Harper Woods student Asia Burks.

GM representative Maureen Berndtson conducts a mock interview with Harper Woods student Asia Burks.

Photo by April Lehmbeck

HARPER WOODS — Students learn many things in school, but sometimes they miss out on one of the keys to succeeding after high school — how to land and keep a job.

That’s why General Motors and United Way representatives spent an afternoon at Harper Woods Secondary School last month. It is part of the district’s partnership with GM and the United Way in the School of Excellence project.

“We will be hosting a team of executives and other management staff from GM so as to offer a high quality ‘mock interview’ experience to our seniors,” Superintendent Todd Biederwolf said in an email prior to the event.

The event included introductory speaker Tobin Williams, GM director of organizational capability, who gave the students some tips and advice on not only jobs, but living.

“When your goals and passions align — that means they come together — incredible things happen,” Williams said. “This is our opportunity to give back to the community where we live and work … to help prepare you for a productive life.”

Through the course of the afternoon, GM staff emphasized the importance of focusing on the entire process of not only landing a job, but keeping it.

“You’re actually in competition for employment, up against people from across the world,” Williams said.

“Learn as much as you can from these folks,” he advised the students.

After Williams spoke, the students broke out into groups with different GM representatives to learn about the job application and interview process before heading out to mock interviews with the executives.

They were shown how the application process works, with many applications being done online. Tips included having professional-sounding emails and making sure the message on a cellphone sounds professional.

In one session, a representative went over the application process; another discussed the interview process; and a third talked about how to behave on the job so that the students are successful in their careers.

“Today is a wonderful opportunity,” Secondary School Principal Thomas Parker said.

The students dressed up in interview attire for the event, and the mock interviews were set up at tables.

“I learned how to do interviews, better conduct yourself during an interview and how to set yourself up to get a job,” student Jalen Hardy said.