Mock interviews help students build key skills

Professor Melissa McDuffee works with Laura Neville of Career Center to offer valuable experience for Psychology Practicum class

February 25, 2021
Faculty/staff report

Melissa McDuffie

Strong interview skills are necessary for success in any field. For the second year in a row, the Career Education Center collaborated with Professor Melissa McDuffie to organize (virtual) mock interview sessions in February for the Psychology Practicum students.

These 22 seniors have been doing internships locally at sites including Baird School, Grand Isle Restorative Justice, Integrated Arts Academy, VT Department of Health, and Burlington Community Justice Center among other organizations doing important work in our community.

McDuffie emphasizes career development and professional skills throughout her curriculum so that as these students move toward graduation they are prepared to apply to graduate schools and jobs.

“The mock interviews are a wonderful opportunity for the Practicum students to practice their interviewing and resume writing skills as they prepare to graduate,” McDuffie said. “Being able to make connections with SMC alumni, to see the diverse paths their careers have taken, and to learn from their experiences is invaluable to our students. It is exciting for me to see the confidence and insight my students gain from the mock interviews.”

career corner logoSt. Mike’s alumni were invited to conduct the interviews, contributing their professional experience with hiring as well as personal insights from their own career paths since graduation.  The ten alumni who participated were: Amanda Carpenter ’16, Kelly Celata ’14, Brenda Cheeseman ’01, Aimee Duffy ’08, Bo Finnegan ’96, Liam Mahoney ’17, Maria McGee ’87, Patrick McKeon ’90,  Hillary Miller ’15, Dillon Reno ’15 and Aimee Upchurch ’95. They met with students individually in virtual breakout rooms where they asked challenging questions and provided feedback. After several rounds of interviewing everyone gathered together for a group Q&A. The alumni shared many insights, just a few examples were to be genuine, craft a narrative of your experiences, make sure to understand the values, culture, and language of the organization you’re applying to, have questions prepared, and be positive and show your appreciation for the opportunity!

Career Coach Laura Neville said that the virtual format this year for the mid-afternoon sessions on Thursday, February 18, and Monday, February 22, had advantages “We weren’t constrained by geography so we were able to reach out to alumni from many different organizations and had many people who were able to be involved. Additionally, video or phone is the way these students will have many of their interviews in the future. They were able to get feedback on their professionalism and engagement while on screen. There was even an unexpected internet outage on campus which the students all handled with poise!”

Laura Neville

Laura Neville, Career Education Center coach

In reflecting on the events, Neville says, “Seeing the positive connection that happens between alumni and students reminds me of what is so special about this community. Knowing they can reach out to each other going forward is invaluable.”

Students appear to have gotten a lot out of it, too, judging from their comments about the experience:

“The interview process overall was very eye-opening and beneficial. I appreciated how alums were willing to give us tips and feedback about the process. One of my interviewers said this, and it stuck with me, “embrace the hard times when looking for jobs because even if you are turned down 99 times, the next one might be the dream job you are looking for.” This experience was rewarding and reminded me about the importance of staying true to my authentic self and being genuine.” – Jessie Anderson ’21

“It was very inspiring to hear the passion and commitment these alumni have made to their job and their commitment to helping those at Saint Michael’s” – Dallas Bradley ’21

“This experience gave me the opportunity to speak with someone who has years of expertise in interviewing people, and I was able to get individualized, direct, and specific feedback. I consider this feedback to be invaluable.” – Katya Marsh ’21

“This experience with our mock interviews was very helpful for future interviews. I was able to learn what are the best do’s and don’ts when it comes to a proper interview. What I liked the most of it was that I was able to learn how to handle an interview over zoom, which seems to be the new normal. This mock interview was a great experience for me because of everything new I learned but as well as the amazing connections I made.” – Leila Saremi-Noori ’21

“It was great to connect with alumni who were so excited to see other St. Mikes students enter the job force. Their willingness to help us practice interviewing will certainly benefit our success in our professional careers. I appreciate all their time and patience!” – Mallory Bauer ’21

practicum screen grab

This screen-grab from the second mock interview session with alumni and students mixed among those in view shows the organizers, Professor Melissa McDuffie and Career Coach Laura Neville top left.






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