The ever increasing demand for job and career preparation prompted IHPC to put together a special pilot program for high school students looking to give themselves that competitive edge. #AdultingBootcamp (#ABC) was promoted as a four-day professional development program open to any student looking to get hands-on training on interviewing skills, resume building, leadership, and more. The camp was held at the Reach Out offices in Upland and culminated in mock job interviews with staff at Western University of Health Sciences (WUHS).
Day 1: The students represented schools from across San Bernardino County, the youngest being just 14 years of age. The morning of check in they were greeted by IHPC staff dressed in all black t-shirts emblazoned with the #AdultingBootcamp in white lettering, and camouflage army caps. After a welcome and general session on what they could expect from the camp and the importance of soft skills, the students were divided into groups and dismissed to the first of four workshops on how to make a personal pitch, researching an organization, leadership, and doing a self-assessment.
Day 2 of the camp focused on situational awareness, interview etiquette, resume building, and preparing for the mock interviews. It was easy to see that these young people were committed to improving their skills and absorbing as much information as they could. They came dressed for success - the young men sporting crisp button-down shirts and ties; the young ladies wearing black skirts or tailored pant suits. At every workshop they listened attentively, took notes, and really engaged with the presenters. Michael Thomas, a job developer from America's Job Center of California was our expert speaker on how to build a resume. He presented the do's and don'ts of resume writing, some of which surprised the students. "If someone shows me their resume, the first thing I do is ask the question; 'what job or position are you applying for?'" "Resumes," he continued, "have to be tailored to the particular job, one size does not fit all."
Day 3 of boot camp, the students were greeted by a large yellow school bus which would take them to the Chino Valley Fire District. "Remember," Sonia Ventura, Outreach Specialist for IHPC announced, "that today we are going into someone else's home. Fire department personnel live, sleep, and eat where they work so when they open up their doors to us, it's like inviting us into their living room. We need to be quiet, respectful, and exercise proper etiquette." This admonishment, along with the dozen bagels and hot coffee that we took for the firemen, got the visit off to a great start. Fire Captain Joe Desoto was immediately impressed with the student's decorum. We arrived early, which the captain took notice of, and followed all instructions. "Captain Joe" as he is called, connected with the students during his presentation on interviewing skills. He spoke from personal experience as an employer having interviewed hundreds of potential rookies for the fire department. "If you don't remember anything else, remember this. You should be able to put your name on every job or task you do. If you can't proudly take the credit for a job, then you need to do it better." He further warned the students about the potential damaging effects of social media reminding them that once it goes online, it's there forever, which could impact your chances of getting a position. The visit wrapped up with a tour of the training grounds which include rooftops, underground tunnels, debris fields, vehicles, and a 4-story building meant to simulate apartment fires and attic environments. After a photo op, the students remembered to shake the Captain's hand and thank him for his time.
Wrapping it up on Day 4: The last morning of the camp there was a nervous buzz in the room as students put the finishing touches on their resumes, got last minute tips and encouragement from our staff, and checked their hair in the mirror. We were off to Western University of Health Sciences for the mock job interviews. This is an exercise meant to give students a feel for a real interview, so IHPC creates job scenarios based upon real-life positions at various health employers in the Inland region. The students are expected to review the job description, do online research on the organization, and then be prepared to discuss why they would be a good fit for the position. This helps them identify transferable skills and traits they already have, and give them a feel for what it typically asked in an interview. The students were introduced to their interviewers and then taken into separate rooms where a WUHS faculty member proceeded to review their resume, conduct the interview, and then provide immediate feedback on how the student did. The students enjoyed the exercise so much, many of them asked if they could do it again with a different interviewer! Unfortunately there wasn't time, but they did receive a certificate of recognition, an #ABC t-shirt, and a goody bag from WUHS for completing the camp.
When asked how we could improve the camp for next year, they were eager to offer both compliments and constructive feedback. Their biggest "complaint"? -- that the boot camp wasn't long enough! "We'd like you to extend the camp an extra day and incorporate some team building. We've learned so much, but one more day would really be great." Well, we think that's the best feedback we couldn't ever gotten.
Thank you to all of these students who have found a special place in our hearts. We couldn't be more proud of their decision to come to camp and take a step toward their futures. One mom, told us that in just a few short days she noticed her daughter's level of self-confidence and grown by leaps and bounds. "Thank you so much for doing this, she said. I can't believe the difference it's made for her."
Post note. Due to the success of the program, Adulting Bootcamp will be offered again in the 2018/19 school year. Visit the IHPC calendar at inlandcoalition.org/events.