Juniors and seniors at Nacogdoches High School got to hear from industry professionals in the community Wednesday as part of a discussion panel for students preparing to enter the workforce.

During three sessions held in the NHS auditorium, guidance and advice were provided to future applicants on how best to approach an interview setting as well as best practices once on a job site.

The sessions are for students both preparing to enter the workforce after graduation or go on to college, said Coy Van Valkenburgh, NISD’s Director of College & Career Readiness.

“It’s always a positive when our students can hear directly from employers in our region,” she said. “Regardless of their plans after high school graduation, these students will soon be going to job interviews and entering the workforce.”

Panelists for the three sessions included, (for public service) Wendy Graves, owner of Hair Flair; Saira Peralta, Stylist at Hair Flair and a 2018 graduate of NHS Cosmetology program; Harold Whitaker, NISD’s Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources; and Susan Patterson, Clinical Education Manager at Tenet Health Nacogdoches Medical Center.

Also, (for business) Brandi Bryant, Senior Business Development Executive at Teamworks; Tim Lewallen, Assistant Director of Customer Service – Information Technology Services at Stephen F. Austin State University; Lisa Garner, owner of Texas Size Bling; Oscar Escamilla, Restaurant Manager at The Fredonia Hotel; and Chandler Young, Banquet Manager at The Fredonia Hotel.

Also, (for trades) Sally Ann Swearingen, Associate Professor of Construction Management/Interior Design at Stephen F. Austin State University; Daniel Light, Texas Master Plumber at Texas Air Conditioning, Electric and Plumbing; and Cade Watson, Community Engagement Coordinator at Stiles Electric Inc.

While Stiles Electric typically doesn’t conduct employee interviews before, managers will receive an immediate impression when new hires arrive on the job site. 

“I get there before everybody else, and I want to see who’s coming in early,” said Watson. “Our day on the job site begins at 6 a.m., and if you get there at 5:30 I’ll be thinking, ‘Alright, they’re ready to go.’”

Positive interaction with co-workers is also important, Watson said, and indicates a willingness to be a part of a team.

For other employers that do conduct interviews, guidance on how best to prepare ahead of time includes things such as personal presentation and knowledge of the company that’s conducting the interview.

“Research the company you’re interviewing with,” said Swearingen, of SFASU. “Consider how you look. That first impression is important.”

Once hired, focus on making a good impression when on the job site.

“Don’t just stand around, even if you don’t have an immediate assignment,” said Light of Texas Air Conditioning, Electric and Plumbing. “If you don’t know what you should be doing, ask.”