CLINTON, Tenn. — More than 500 middle school students went to the Hollingsworth Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in Clinton to practice applying and interviewing for jobs on Thursday.
Junior Achievement of East Tennessee created a program for middle schoolers in Anderson County to teach them professional skills.
During the 2-hour event, students practiced their handshakes, elevator pitches and wrote resumes. They learned about the careers that would fit their soft skills and filled out applications for those jobs.
It all led up to an interview with a real, local business leader. The interviewers gave the students feedback, commenting on their handshakes, eye contact and how clearly they spoke.
"It really is kind of a career exploration, workforce ready kind of event for these students," said Callie Archer, the President of Junior Achievement of East Tennessee. "We want to expose every child that we can about what some of the opportunities they have in front of them."
Kennedy Cook is a seventh-grader who wants to be a teacher when she grows up.
"That was pretty fun," Kennedy said. "It was a little nerve-wracking."
Kennedy went through an interview, where she answered the most common interview question: "tell me about yourself." She told the interviewer about her plans for the future and her work in middle school.
The interviewer said Kennedy seemed confident and spoke strongly.
"I'm pretty good at hiding my emotions," Kennedy said.
Anna Dark is a manager at a fitness club in Clinton.
"I thought what a wonderful, wonderful program for these kids," Dark said. "One of the things I expressed to many of the students is if you find something that you truly enjoy, from the heart, you'll never work a day in your life."
Anderson County Schools said the kids who participated got a certificate, and some of them walked away with jobs.