[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteers. This article is sponsored by QAD Inc., a Partners in Education President’s Council member.]

Michelle Hughes sees a larger advantage when professionals volunteer in schools. 'Santa Barbara youth are the future,' says the Westmont College assistant education professor. 'We all need to contribute to their development and invest in them as potential leaders.'

Michelle Hughes sees a larger advantage when professionals volunteer in schools. “Santa Barbara youth are the future,” says the Westmont College assistant education professor. “We all need to contribute to their development and invest in them as potential leaders.” (Brad Elliott photo / Westmont College)

Michelle Hughes has been involved in Santa Barbara Partners in Education for years. Her role as Westmont College’s go-to point person for Partners in Education has allowed her to observe firsthand the opportunities available to do volunteer work in the community. Hughes personally connected most with one of these opportunities and is now enthusiastically involved in Partners in Education’s mock job interview program.

“As an assistant professor of Education and teacher of teachers, I am a big advocate for our local schools, for students and for the supportive work that Partners does to connect the community to our local schools,” she said.

Hughes believes that mock interviews are essential for students who will soon be entering the workforce.

“I think mock interviews are very effective,” she explained. “They give students practice interviewing, as well as experience talking about résumés and career goals. Mock interviews also allow for conversation and feedback between the interviewer and interviewee about professional dress and questions to ask in an interview.

“I love to remind students that they should ‘promote themselves’ and give positive examples and stories about volunteer work and past experiences that will apply to potential positions.”

By participating in mock interviews, Hughes hopes to help students realize and eventually achieve their goals.

“It is my hope that I can affirm and support students as they explore internships and potential career goals,” she said. “Through mock interviews, career days and internships supported by Partners in Education, students can often discover what they want to do or don’t want to do in the future.

“Hopefully, when I represent Partners in Education, I can help students get one step closer to their career goals.”

Professionals volunteering in the local school systems is something that Hughes strongly promotes.

“It is rewarding to give back and assist students any way we can,” she said. “I am always energized when I connect with our local high school students. Also, local professionals can usually offer a little advice and wisdom to students that comes with years of work experience.”

Volunteering, in general, is often vital to the health of any community. Hughes believes that volunteering can positively change a community in more ways than one.

“Volunteering is worthwhile since we all need to ‘own’ and participate in the broader Santa Barbara community,” she said. “Santa Barbara youth are the future. We all need to contribute to their development and invest in them as potential leaders.

“As an educator and mom of two young kids, I am grateful to the volunteers in our community who make a difference in my kids’ lives.”

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» Click here for more information about 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 mmagnusson@sbceo.org.

» Connect with Partners in Education on Facebook.

— Michaela Ford is a senior at Santa Barbara High School and a Santa Barbara Partners in Education intern through the Partners Job Readiness & Internship Program. Partners in Education programs are administered under the Santa Barbara County Education Office.