Twenty-four Sacred Heart alumnae returned to campus on Friday, October 18 to coach 8th grade students in the basics of interviewing and networking.
"The interview project focuses on the soft skills young women need for success. The girls practiced everything from extending a firm handshake, maintaining eye contact, and using active listening skills to maintain a productive dialogue with a professional," said Middle School Division Head Laurie Friedrichs.
In preparation for the interview, the 8th grade met with the Career Development and Community Engagement Office at the University of West Florida while on their annual class trip. They learned the importance of having a personal elevator speech and other professional fundamentals. With her experience in higher education, Middle School Dean of Students Christine Toth commented that, "The art of interviewing is a life skill that they will carry with them now and throughout their professional career."
To begin their interview sessions, alumnae paired off with students who introduced themselves and walked their alumna to a favorite place on campus and took a group selfie. From there the students conducted a 45-minute interview focusing on the alumna's experience as a student and their path to a professional career. The students led the interview to a close, and the alumna had a feedback session with Kitty Mattesky, the iLab coordinator.
At the conclusion of the session, many alumnae commented that the students were engaged, poised and confident. Other feedback included:
“I wish I would have done this when I was here…”
“This will help them so much in the future…”
“I hope we can stay in touch with the students and do this annually…It will be fun to watch their growth over the next five years”
Sacred Heart Alumnae Director Megan Kepper looks forward to continuing the program.
“What makes this project special is the immediate connection between the students and the returning alumnae,” said Megan. “They start their session by establishing common ground, using the same language to talk about their shared experience at Sacred Heart, regardless of the difference in age or area of interest. By acknowledging what they have in common with these professional alumnae, students can envision what they can become, and in return they share with alumnae what is currently happening on campus, which inevitably gets a positive response!”