GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A job training program put on by the Work Force Development Program, and sponsored by Mississippi Power, provided 11th and 12th graders with necessary tools to do well in job interviews.
"In Mississippi we have a high unemployment rate. A lot of people can do the job but they can't get past the interview because they can't look you in the eye," said program director Dr. Barbara Coatney. "They don't shake your hand, and they don't know what it is to be interviewed by a panel of interviewers. They don't get the job."
The program usually offers the training to young adults, but Coatney thought that it would be more beneficial to teach interview skills to teens.
"The only thing that you can do to try to change the landscape of young adult employment is to get them early," Coatney said.
Volunteers from the community taught various workshops including how to dress for success, the importance of eye contact, and how to get through a job interview.
"I didn't know how to dress," said Harrison Central Senior Aisha Sumrall. "I don't have many dressy clothes, so I had to go out and buy some."
One of the main things the work force wants the kids to walk away with is how to properly promote themselves to employers.
"When you ask our young adults, 'What is it that you're good at [doing],' they don't know," said Coatney.
The students learned how to do 30-second elevator pitches about their skills and weaknesses, something Long Beach senior Bryce Floyd says he didn't even know existed.
"Encountering your employer, just out of nowhere, you can talk to them for a quick 30-seconds about little things about you," said Floyd.