Remember how scary it was applying for your first job — the cold dread of not knowing how to format a résumé or what the right interview etiquette was?
Well, SLO Partners is looking to help eliminate some of that initial fear through its “Just 1” program that connects high school students to local employers for summer jobs and internships.
The program, in its third year, partners with local school districts to hold a job fair where local employers can interview students, with the intention of hiring “just one.”
“Really, it’s a good chance to expose students to job opportunities — as well as internship opportunities — but also it’s an opportunity for businesses,” said Michael Specchierla, SLO Partners executive director. “It’s building that local talent pipeline.”
More than 400 students interviewed last year with more than 100 businesses, according to SLO Partners. Of those, roughly 100 got offers.
Specchierla said he expects the number of students involved to easily double this year.
The number of businesses participating is also increasing: Roughly 40 businesses alone are signed up for Paso Robles High School’s job fair Thursday. And with other fairs taking place at the rest of the local high schools through May, there is plenty of time for businesses to sign up for a spot, he said.
“I loved it!” Farm Supply Human Resources Manager Vicki Federico wrote in a response to SLO Partners shared with The Tribune. “So much fun, and renewed my hope for the future! I enjoyed meeting all of them and have forwarded the superstars to our store manager here in SLO and Paso Robles.”
Other participating businesses include Jack Creek Cellars, Trader Joe’s, Boot Barn, Justin Vineyards, local libraries, children’s museums, art galleries and insurance and finance companies.
“We have a little bit of everything, so we can really expose students to what are the local job opportunities,” Specchierla said. “It’s making sure that our up-and-coming talent realize how they can stay in the area and grow — future careers locally grown.”
One of the biggest advantages of the program for students is the panel interview format: Representatives interview students in groups, rather than one-on-one.
“Some of them have never even had a job interview,” Specchierla said. “And I think we all remember that feeling and that nervousness from our first interview. This way, they can hear how their peers respond in different ways.”
The way students are chosen to participate depends on their school district: At San Luis Coastal, juniors are participating in the program as part of a résumé and job skill building project in their English classes, while others on career pathways are also eligible to participate. At other schools, students are chosen by teachers and counselors based on their individual readiness, Specchierla said.
At all schools, students must be 16 years or older to participate.
Businesses interested in participating or those who want more information on the program can visit slopartners.org/just1.
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The job fairs will be held:
▪ March 8, Paso Robles, Templeton and Shandon high schools
▪ March 27, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay and Coast Union high schools
▪ April 12, Atascadero High School
▪ May 3, Nipomo and Central Coast New Tech high schools
▪ May 9, Arroyo Grande High School
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