Simon Alcala (left), a TSTC Building Construction Technology student, discusses his job qualifications with Melinda Gonzales, program specialist for the San Benito CISD after-school program, during a recent TSTC Career Services Interview Practicum.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Career Services department recently held an Interview Practicum to help prepare TSTC students to use critical thinking, soft skills and communication to land high-paying jobs after graduation.

More than 135 students from programs including Auto Collision and Management Technology, Biomedical Equipment Technology, Building Construction Technology, Cybersecurity, and Wind Energy Technology were ready to make an impression on interviewers/coaches.

The event focused on three rounds of 20-minute practice interviews, with a different interviewer/coach for each round.

Drake Everett, a TSTC Career Services representative, said the goal was to get students to think differently.

“We wanted students to think of responses to questions that would impress the interviewers/coaches,” he said. “An example included, ‘Could you tell me something about yourself that I wouldn’t know by reading your resume?’ These scenarios help students consider how they can advocate for themselves professionally. It’s a valuable skill when interviewing.”

Harlingen resident Danny Hernandez, a Building Construction Technology student, said the event was beneficial.

“Getting feedback allows us to improve so we’re prepared for our real-life interview,” he said. “The feedback I received was about my resume, such as changing the font size and spacing to make it look nicer. I was also told to be more specific with my responses, such as using work experience.”

Cybersecurity student Estrella Pineda said the event was a refresher.

“I’ve been out of the interview process for some time, and this is my first semester back in school,” the Harlingen resident said. “The interviewer suggested that I keep an eye on any projects or training. By mentioning those, it can impress the representative of that company.”

Melinda Gonzales, program specialist for the San Benito CISD after-school program, said it was a pleasure to assist a community partner like TSTC as an interviewer/coach.

“I enjoyed engaging with the students because some of them may be future employees at San Benito CISD,” she said. “The feedback I usually give is to provide specific examples about what they’re doing now and how that relates to the job they’re applying for.”

Lorenzo Castro, a retired educator from Donna ISD who also served as an interviewer/coach, said it was inspiring to learn about the students’ goals.

“I could tell the students are respectful, hardworking, and want a better life,” he said. “I appreciated that they took the time to organize their thoughts and answer my questions.”

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