Last week, several local businesses performed mock professional interviews for 20 10th-graders who are participating in a life skills course through Trekkers’ Cross-America Program.

Trekkers designed the life skills and leadership course more than 10 years ago to help students gain knowledge and confidence in presenting themselves professionally to others. In the weeks leading up to the interview, students learned the do’s and don’ts of effective interviewing. Students were then responsible for creating a Web page describing themselves, their community and their aspirations. These personal Web pages served as a resume to provide background information on each student.

Students then traveled to one of the participating local businesses as if they were applying to work there. The interviews lasted approximately 45 minutes and ended with a period of review and advice from a business professional. This course is part of Trekkers’ Cross-America Program, which seeks to introduce students to a unique bio-region of the country. Students work throughout the year to design the itinerary for their group’s expedition.

This year the 10th-grade Trekkers are going to Colorado to explore the Rocky Mountains and have chosen to do a cultural exchange with Native Americans, study land and water conservation in the West, complete a service project with Habitat for Humanity, go spelunking, and much more.

The life skills and leadership course is set up for students in their sophomore year at a time when many are applying for their first jobs and beginning to think of life after high school. The opportunity to interview in a truly professional setting provides vital experience as well as valuable and honest feedback from the businesses that shape our community. Many Trekkers alumni have said the mock interview experience helped them feel more confident and calm during college and professional interviews after high school.

The Strong Agency’s Carmen Moshier was one of the volunteer interviewers.

“I was really glad to help ease each student’s mind with the whole idea of interviewing — not every interview is going to be scary and I was glad to help them with the experience,” Moshier said.

Along with the Strong Agency, Trekkers received support from Lonza Inc., Fisher Engineering and Camden National Bank. Each company provided staff volunteers to facilitate the interview process over a two-day period.

For more information on Trekkers’ Cross-America Program, visit trekkersonline.com or call 594-5095. Trekkers is a nonprofit outdoor-based mentoring program that connects caring adults with young people through expeditionary learning, community service and adventure-based education.