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Prospective employees receive tips on job shadowing, interning

If you're preparing to find a job, you could do worse than follow the Scout motto: Be Prepared.

That was among the advice that Cameron University students received last week at the Job Shadow Meet, Greet & Network event

Local employers talked about how to prepare for a job interview, gave advice on what  and what not  to do in an interview and the value of job shadowing and interning.

Paula S. Merrifield, career services coordinator in Cameron's Office of Student Development, said previous yearly events had been "thank you" receptions for mentors and networking opportunities.

This year, she said, she wanted to offer students some practical advice on how to seek a job, as well as an opportunity to talk with prospective employers.

Merrifield framed the panel discussion by noting surveys have found that 90 percent of recent college graduates believed they're well-prepared for work. More than half of employers surveyed, on the other hand, think recent grads aren't prepared.

'Soft skills' valued

Some of the employers' tips have nothing to do with students' expertise in their courses of study. They're about "soft skills," things like communicating, being at work on time and learning and taking on extra tasks on the job and working as part of a team.

Being prepared starts at the very beginning, at the application stage.

"Please don't write as you text  no capitalization, no punctuation, incomplete sentences," said Brenda Ototivo, executive director of the Jim Taliaferro Community Mental Health Center. 

Erika Perez, employee development coordinator for the City of Lawton, said it's important that everything make a good impression. She's seen more than one "questionable" email address, for example, and it's important to be careful with your social media posts, especially if you're applying for a public-sector job.

Make sure your cover letter and resume match skills and experience in the job description, she said. And don't leave gaps on your resume.

Coby Edwards, chief operating officer of Lawton Media Group, said he's seen both prepared job applicants  and those not so much. Some have faulty resumes; others dress inappropriately for the job.

If you haven't interviewed before, participate in some mock interviews with mentors or peers before going to the real thing, said Luis J. Mendes, education liaison for Comanche County Memorial Hospital.

Sherry Labyer, former superintendent of Duncan Public Schools who now does contract workforce consulting with colleges and universities, said applicants should learn about the organizations they want to work for and tailor their answers in the interview to show they've done their homework.

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