Biloxi students prepare to jump into tough job market

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The room was filled with Biloxi High students who seemed ready to make that leap into the job market.

"They're all of age when they can be working. A lot of them just don't know where to start," said Donna Schafer, Biloxi High School Transition Coordinator.

To start, the students learned the right way to fill-out an application. Then, they sat down for one of the scariest parts of the employment experience, the interview. Representatives from various companies pretend to be the employers, and the students had to impress them with their skills and experience.

"I felt very nervous. I really didn't know what to expect," said Biloxi High Junior Jordan Young.  "When we finally got done, it was easy. It didn't seem that hard at all."

The 35 students belonged to the school's Special Education Transition Program. Some have never had a job before. The coordinator says employers need to focus on the students' abilities, instead of their disabilities.

"I think people are reluctant to hire sometimes, and I think they have preconceived ideas of what students are not capable, or what they can't do. These students are like any other student. They can work the job just as anybody else can do," said Schafer.

The students also learned how to dress for success and other job-related issues like Social Security benefits, financial planning and even how to stand up for themselves in the work place. Most of all, they now know what to expect when they start pounding the pavement.

"I feel very confident," said Jordan Young. "I feel like I can get any job now."

Another goal of the program is to encourage companies to offer job shadowing experience to the students. The mock interview was also sponsored by USM and LIFE.

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