Katherine Collins reports on this new program unlike any other in the area.

Clark State to offer guaranteed job interviews to students

Clark State will offer guaranteed job interviews to students who meet certain criteria as a part of a new program that its leaders say is unlike any other in the area.

The program will pair local employers with qualified students for interviews before graduation, said Aimee Belanger-Haas, assistant dean of business and applied technologies at Clark State Community College.

“This just shows the innovation that we have,” Belanger-Haas said. “We’re putting our students first.”

So far, 34 local businesses have agreed to be involved. Each employer has submitted criteria for students they will interview, she said. Some included grade requirements or asked that students have community service, internship or co-op experience.

“That’s going to really be a lot of students,” Belanger-Haas said of the number of students who will likely qualify for at least one interview.

Students will be run against a database of qualifications and contacted if they meet the criteria, she said, then it’s up to the student to choose which interviews to accept.

It’s modeled after a similar program in the insurance industry, Belanger-Haas said, that offers job interviews to college graduates.

“This is the first time I believe that a college is participating in a program like this,” said Melody Gast, co-op and employment coordinator at Clark State.

The focus will be on students who intend to go directly into the workforce after graduation from Clark State, Gast said.

“These are the degrees that the students are very excited about transitioning from education to careers,” she said.

Students said the new program could make graduates more likely to stay in the area.

“I’ve had a lot of trouble with getting interviews and stuff like that with jobs in the past so I think it’ll really help out,” Clark State student Doonie Lawson said.

Lawson recently enrolled in classes at Clark State, he said, and will look into the program when he nears graduation to see if it’s right for him.

“It’s awesome to give people a better head start in getting a job,” he said.

And the grade and activity requirements could push students to work harder, said Cecil Pratt, former Clark State student government president.

“It’s more incentive for students to get involved in school or prospective students to enroll,” he said.

Local employers showed interest in the program quickly, Gast said.

“Employers are having a difficult time finding qualified candidates to fill their open positions,” she said.

This program will guarantee that students are qualified for the position before the interview, she said.

Villa Springfield, a health-care and rehabilitation center, has already agreed to participate in the guaranteed job interview program. The center has had trouble attracting nurses and nursing assistants, Executive Director Bill Robinson said.

It’s a shortage the industry faces as a whole, he said, as baby boomers get older and need more medical care.

“We’re hoping to attract and retain people in Springfield,” Robinson said.

Interviews will begin in the spring semester, Belanger-Haas said. After that, interviews will be held in both the fall and spring.

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