Skills for Life Project Offers a Business Skills Workshop

SVTS skills for life smallSonoma Valley Teen Services organized a business skills workshop at Sonoma Valley High after regular classes concluded. Fifteen teens attended the session November 29, 2012. The workshop was part of a series of “Skills for Life” programs made possible through the IMPACT 100 grant funds received during 2011 and 2012. The mission of Sonoma Valley Teen Services is to empower teens to make positive choices for their health, safety, education and future.

Osias Encarnacion, Board Member, and Cristin Lawrence, Executive Director, of Sonoma Valley Teen Services, worked with the career development counselor at the high school to offer the workshop on campus to make it more convenient for students to participate. Human resources managers from several local businesses participated in mock job interviews. Carla Carvajal and James Flanagan from Whole Foods Company; Leslie Crooks and Gail Richwine, from Sonoma Market and Glen Ellen Market; Jennifer Ward and Kaitlyn Tinder from the Fairmont Mission Inn and Susan DuCote, a retired executive search firm recruiter, participated.

The workshop was designed to allow students to practice their interview skills, discuss career planning with business professionals, and give the students their first chance at interacting with business professionals as an independent career seeker. The interviewers asked the teens standard interview questions, while observing the students’ ability to communicate, their mannerisms, eye contact and overall attitude. Then the interviewers provided positive feedback to the students and suggested improvements.

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For those students who were interested to discuss career plans, the interviewers engaged them in conversations to describe what careers are of interest to them. The importance of graduation from high school and continued education was encouraged.

The importance of customer service skills was emphasized because many students with part-time jobs need to interact with customers. The interviewers were invited to ask the teens how they would deal with customer situations that have happened in their businesses. Such practice makes it possible for the teens to improve their job-seeking skills and to develop career plans.

One seventeen year old boy shared that he was caught off guard by how nervous he was once in front of the person interviewing him. His mind went blank, which surprised him because he is comfortable talking with people. The practice was helpful to anticipate how he may react and to better prepared for a “real” job interview.

James Flanagan, Whole Foods Human Resource Director, Sonoma Store, stated, “It was absolutely worth my time to be available to talk to the teens, who were polite and engaged in the process. Most of them had never had a formal interview before.” All of the interviewers asked to be involved in future business skills workshops.

For further information about volunteering for help with the workshops and dates of upcoming workshops, please contact Cristin Lawrence, Executive Director, at 939-1452. Please visit the Sonoma Valley Teen Services website <> to learn about teen programs and activities.

Press release provided by Jean Hopeman.