Lincoln Technical Academy Logo

As Published in the Lodi News-Sentinel
By Sara Jane Pohlman/News-Sentinel Staff
Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012 12:00 am| Updated: 6:02 am, Fri Feb 17, 2012.  

Daniel Doyle, 17, waited casually in a metal folding chair, his hands in the pockets of his jeans. He wore a green collared shirt with a tie, and his hair was neatly combed.

This would be his first job interview, but he wasn’t nervous. Why not?

“It’s not real. It’s practice,” he said.

Doyle was waiting in line with a dozen other students for a mock interview at Lincoln Technical Academy.

School staff invited 90 volunteers from the community to conduct general job interviews with their students. With so many students, it was impossible to tailor the questions to a specific job.

This was the first schoolwide event to prepare students for life after high school.

Vice principal Debi Chiene called it a fabulous day. But setting up interviews for 500-plus students was quite the scheduling process. She was a blur in the main hallway, registering students and keeping them quiet before their interview.

Doyle took it all in without breaking a sweat.

His interview style?

“I don’t like to be too prepared. If your answers aren’t too prepared, you can show the interviewer who you really are,” he said.

Two girls waiting across the hall weren’t so calm and collected.

“I hate being put on the spot. I hate saying the wrong answer,” said Jaydin Wagner, 17. She was practicing handshakes with Bree Spalding, 16. When the pair was called in, each took a last look at the other’s hair and marched into the room with chins held high.

Teachers peeked in on the waiting room to check on their students.

Julie Abernathy teaches medical assisting at Lincoln. She raided her husband’s closet for ties for her students.

“We tell them all the time the work they do in class is meaningful. But bringing the community in makes it real. It means a lot to them,” she said.

Both teachers heard good feedback from their students.

“All of my students said, first thing, the interviewer made them feel comfortable,” said Abernathy.

The interviewers had equally positive reviews of the students.

“They are poised, sincere and ambitious, and they hope to continue what they’re doing now,” sad Diana Stipe, a local retiree. “I would like to work with any of these people.”

Former Tokay High School Principal Rich Abel volunteered his time as an interviewer for the day. He was impressed by how students took ownership of the process.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for young people to use different skills. It’s not every day they get to talk about themselves and their schoolwork,” he said.

Wagner, Spalding and Doyle came out of their interviews 10 tense minutes later, looking somewhat relieved.

“It was more of a conversation that anything else. I think I showed myself as a friendly person,” said Doyle.

Wagner, too, was pleased with her performance.

“Once I got in there and calmed down, I did really well,” she said.