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Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 11:03 pm | Fair 48º


Partners in Education Volunteer Spotlight: Brad Smith of Cottage Health System

In mock interviews, students gain insight and advice, and positive feedback and encouragement from an HR professional

[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteers.]

A recruitment specialist in Cottage Health System’s Human Resources Department, Brad Smith found participating with Santa Barbara Partners in Education’s mock job interviews to be a natural fit.

One of the most popular of the volunteer activities available through Partners in Education’s Volunteer Recruitment & Coordination program, mock job interviews take place frequently throughout the year in collaboration with the local high schools.

      |  Partners in Education President’s Council Series |  Complete Series Index  |

The interviews allow students the opportunity to practice interview skills with professionals, while giving professionals the chance to share their expertise with students who will soon be making their mark on the job world themselves.

For many of the teens, this is their first experience with any type of interview situation. On top of getting important tips like, “Be sure to maintain eye contact” and “Avoid saying ‘like’ or ‘um’ too often,” students get direct feedback on their résumés.

“I also handle portions of workforce development for Cottage, so interview preparation and résumé-building are things I can give students some insight on, from the interviewer’s point of view”, said Smith, who first heard about this volunteer activity through co-workers who were already engaged.

Why get involved?

For Smith, it was simple.

“I enjoy having open dialogue with kids and want to help them in any aspect of their development,” he explained. “Many of them are so eager to learn and get out into the business world. I feed off of their energy.

“As someone who has little spare time due to work and other commitments, the volunteer opportunities with Partners in Education were so simple and fun that I couldn’t say no,” he added. “I do what I can and the PIE staff always makes the volunteers feel appreciated.”

Smith has been one of Partners in Education’s most eager and reliable volunteers for the past two years. Partners staff can almost always count on him to sign up whenever the notice for the next round of interviewing goes out to volunteers.

They can also count on Smith to give each student he interviews honest and straightforward feedback.

“First and foremost I let them know I am here for them,” he said. “I treat them as equals and enjoy an open forum for discussion.”

What’s his most common piece of advice?

“I tell students they need to learn how to talk about themselves,” he said. “This can be difficult for most, especially when asked about their areas for improvement or examples of teamwork. It only comes easier with practice.”

Smith’s approach is refreshing. Students walk away from their time with him armed with new knowledge about themselves and a better sense of how to prepare for future interviews.

Mock job interviews have become a large focus for Santa Barbara high schools, especially in the senior classes. Partners in Education, along with the teachers and school staff involved in this effort, would like to see each high school senior complete a mock job interview before graduation, to better prepare students for the challenges of job hunting.

Volunteers like Brad Smith make this goal seem reachable.

Cottage Health System is a member of the Partners in Education President’s Council, a group of local businesses, organizations and individuals who support Partners in Education with contributions of at least $2,500. Any company or organization has the opportunity to participate in Partners in Education, but the President’s Council is limited to no more than 25.

» Click here for more information on Santa Barbara Partners in Education.

» Click here for more information on how to become a President’s Council member or contact Michelle Magnusson, development and membership director, at 805.964.4710 x4417 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

» Click here for a related article from Partners in Education board president Lynda Nahra.

» Connect with Partners in Education on Facebook.

Partners in Education is a program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office and is the beneficiary of the upcoming Santa Barbara Triathlon, Aug. 26-28. Ben Romo, executive director of Partners in Education, will be competing in the triathlon. Click here to make an online donation.

      |  Partners in Education President’s Council Series |  Complete Series Index  |

— Chelsea Pacino coordinates the Santa Barbara Partners in Education paid job training and internship program.

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