Summer 2002 Forward to a Friend

In the late 1960s, Philadelphia’s 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 Academy’s 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 city’s 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 Academy’s juniors and seniors visit various departments at Subaru of America, Inc. headquarters in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The company’s representatives interview the students as if they’re 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 Academy’s Director of Public Relations and National Partnerships, the practice interviews always leave a lasting impression on the students.

“The student who’s terrified and thinks
the interview is
going to be the worst experience of their life almost always comes back with a glowing evaluation.”
“The students’ reactions never cease to amaze me,” Micka says. “A student who comes back from the interview saying ‘That was easy!’ almost always looks at their evaluation and finds there was something they did that bothered the interviewer. When that happens, that student really has to reevaluate what happened and ask themselves why they didn’t do a better job.”

“On the other hand,” she continues, “the student who’s 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.”

“It’s 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.”