PHARR, RGV – To improve the employibility of its students, PSJA ISD has held its first ever Train for Success Camp.

The three-day program concluded with a jobs fair Friday with students interacting with 20 companies at the Pharr Research & Development Center.

Stephanie Mendez

“This is an optional activity for students but we think they get a lot out of the camp,” said Stephanie Mendez, business and community partnership specialist at PSJA.

“At the Train for Success Camp we train students with soft skills because this is what our business partners tell us the students need. They learn how to behave in the workplace, they learn about etiquette, how to write a cover letter, how to create a resume.”

Partnering with Workforce Solutions and South Texas College, PSJA students on the course can earn a Jobs Readiness Certificate. In addition, UT-Rio Grande Valley students in the Society of Human Resource Management help the PSJA students by conducting mock interviews.

“The UTRGV students are great. They volunteer to help our students with mock interviews. They coach them how to dress for a job interview and give other advice and tips,”Mendez said.

The jobs fair involved PSJA students showing their resumes to local companies looking for summer interns. Some students were interviewed on the spot and secured an internship.

“Internships are incredibly important to high school students because at this age, when they are 16, 7, 18 years old, they really do not have an idea what they want to do with the rest of their lives,” Mendez said.

“If they engage in an internship, it is going to give them a little bit of an idea on whether they want to go into a particular career field. If so, great. But, if not, and they realize they do not like it, they have learned it an early age and they do not spend time and money on something they are not going to like. Instead, they reroute and find their true callings.”

Internships, job shadowing, workplace tours, and having a mentor are all helpful to students looking to start a career, Mendez explained.

“These are ways our students get to meet people. They get to network, they get to build that social network. Some students do not have a social network. They do not have a friend or a coach, or a CEO of a company, or an executive director of a company. The only possible way they can get to that point is if they do an internship or a job shadowing or take a volunteer position. So, that is what we are trying to do at PSJA. Give them an opportunity to connect with the workplace.”

Asked what feedback she has received from students, Mendez said:

“The students are really, really, excited but they were nervous. They had never done this before. They have never had a professional interview before. But, they are training to be successful. We are incredibly grateful for all of our different partners who showed up today. This is the first time we have done this and we will build on it next year. We believe we have to coach our students for the workplace.”

Rio Grande Guardian-PSJA Partnership

The Rio Grande Guardian has been part of the PSJA’s summer internship program for the past two years and had a booth at this year’s jobs fair. The students PSJA have provided have gone on to win statewide journalism awards.

“We are delighted to partner with PSJA and help their students learn about the world of journalism,” said Rio Grande Guardian editor Steve Taylor. “From my own entry into journalism, many years ago now, I know how important internships are. Some of the students we have had end up saying they do not want to become journalists. But, they all agree they learn a lot. They learn communication skills, they learn how to interview people they have never met. They become much more confident in their own ability.”

This year, the Rio Grande Guardian will have student interns working in the fields of journalism, website development and sales and marketing. For more information contact (956) 605-9380.