A Mahwah High School senior already has a leg up on the job market competition.
Sara Kern, who is set to graduate from MHS this June, already knows what she wants to study in college. “I’ve always known that I wanted to work with kids,” she said. “I can see the dedication and work that my teachers put into their jobs, and how much they love what they do. I know I want that with my career too.”
Next September, Kern will begin an elementary education course of study at Goucher College in Maryland. But, she’s not waiting until then to start preparing for her career. Kern is an assistant teacher at the Wyckoff YMCA, tutor, President of the MHS Future Educators Association and a Northern Region Representative for the New Jersey Future Educators Association.
The NJFEA is part of a national organization of middle, high school and college students who are interested in a career in teaching. Kern ran for, and was elected to, her representative position earlier this school year. Last month, Kern joined about 300 other FEA members from across the country for the 23rd annual Future Educators Association national conference in Baltimore, Maryland. “The whole thing is great. You meet people from across the whole country, learn a lot, and compete in a bunch of different competitions,” Kern said.
The MHS student competed in, and placed first in, the Job Application/On-site Interview Competition run by the FEA.
Kern, who competed against other future educators at the three-day conference, had to present judges with a resume, cover letter, letters of recommendation, and a portfolio, and got interviewed by FEA officials posing as a hiring team at a middle school. “Everything was mock – the position I was applying for, the school. But, the experience was very real,” Kern said. “They asked a lot of questions and conducted it as if it were a real interview.”
Kern said preparation was the key to winning the competition. “I actually did a practice interview with some of my teachers and our FEA advisor Mrs. [Joan] Garris. They told me what I did right, what I did wrong, and gave me educational buzzwords to use during the interview. I also became as informed as I possibly could be about the fake position I was applying for,” Kern said.
The win, she said, solidifies something that she thinks is very important for her generation to learn. “I don’t think kids know how to talk to adults,” she said. “Or, how to present themselves in a professional manner. Interviewing is such an important skill, and it’s really never too early to learn how to do it right.”
Her advice to others, young and old, who are up for a real-life interview? “Think in the future. Do what you need to do now, whether you’re in high school or not, to make sure that you are prepared for where you want to be in the future. Being prepared is everything.”