In the late 1960s, Philadelphias civic leaders looked for a way to curb high youth dropout and unemployment rates. A model program established in a public high school involved 30 students with business partners from the city who promised the students employment upon graduation.
In the years that followed, the program expanded and evolved into the Philadelphia Academies, Inc., a nonprofit organization designed to motivate young people to stay in school while providing them with marketable skills and access to employment after graduation. Today the Academys programs are operating in 17 high schools and several middle schools in the Philadelphia area with an enrollment of more than 7,000 students. The program includes 13 career fields, each designed to meet the needs of the citys economy by training a workforce that will understand its major industries.Area business and community leaders work closely with the Academy to provide the students with real-world skills and experience to prepare them for careers after graduation.
Subaru of America, Inc. supports the Academy in several ways, notably by hosting a program of practice job interviews for its students. Twice a year, the Academys juniors and seniors visit various departments at Subaru of America, Inc. headquarters in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The companys representatives interview the students as if theyre actually applying for jobs. During their interviews, the students are evaluated by the human resources staff on a series of qualities determined by the Academy, ranging from appearance, punctuality and attitude, to how well they answer the practice interview questions. Afterward, the students return to the classroom and discuss the evaluations with their instructors.
According to Connie Micka, the Academys Director of Public Relations and National Partnerships, the practice interviews always leave a lasting impression on the students.
On the other hand, she continues, the student whos terrified and thinks the interview is going to be the worst experience of their life almost always comes back with a glowing evaluation. Academy graduates almost always tell us that the practice interviews were one of the things that helped them the most when they went out to look for jobs.
Its a great experience for them, Micka says. The fact that Subaru puts aside so much of their time to help our students with this is wonderful.