By Kevin Jackson, AMCMarch 7, 2018
McALESTER, Okla. -- McAlester Army Ammunition Plant may have found a pool of future employees to combat attrition while participating in the Kiamichi Technology Center's mock interview day for students at its campus on Feb. 27.
Three representatives from MCAAP joined 30 others from local businesses to give more than 300 students their first practice experience with a formal employment interview.
Many of the businesses were participants the two previous years, said Linda Peters, KTC's Career Connection Center instructor who organized the event. She also reached out to members of the McAlester Chamber of Commerce and fellow KTC instructors who sought out interviewers from businesses in their fields.
The students were matched to businesses in their respective career programs and seemed eager to participate.
"The kids are receptive to it," said Peters. "We've been working all year on job skills preparedness, resumes and cover letters. Since the beginning of the year, we have told them, 'you will have a mock interview,' and they are excited."
Each business representative received a packet with questions they could use and a scoresheet. Students were awarded between one and five points each for their first impression, resume, professional dress, general attitude, content of their answers and speaking ability.
One adult KTC student, who is planning to re-enter the workforce in a different career field after 28 years in food preparation, found the mock interview to be helpful.
"It's an excellent program because before we did this, we completed questions and answers -- like a test -- to prepare for it, learned the right way to do an interview and we went through some simulation" said Glenda Todd, who is enrolled in the Teacher Prep/Early Care Program.
"This helped a lot. I would feel more confident now, if I were asked to do a real interview," she added.
Some students have even obtained jobs from employers who were impressed with them.
Last year, an adult student was hired and worked in the T.H. Rogers Lumber Company's Wholesale Division in McAlester until he relocated because of his spouse's employment.
"He was an excellent employee," said Iva Due, southeast district manager for the T.H. Rogers Lumber Company. "We're very thankful [KTC] does this because it helps our community as well."
MCAAP is one of the largest employers in the region and in 2017 was voted as the Best Place to Work in the area by readers of the McAlester News-Capital. Some students already have their sights set on the ammunition plant.
"That is my number one," said Lane Luker, who is studying computer numerical controls at KTC. "I hope to work at the Army base. They make good money and it's good work, so it's where I want to be in the future."
While MCAAP needs more employees for its booming munitions business, it also recognizes that working with organizations like KTC pays reciprocal benefits for all involved.
"This event provided an excellent opportunity for us to work with KTC and engage area students, who are potential MCAAP employees," said Brian Lott, MCAAP chief of staff. "By working with our community partners, like KTC and its students, we are helping strengthen our regional workforce which benefits all area employers, including MCAAP."
Among the participating businesses were the McAlester Regional Health Center, Choctaw Nation, Oklahoma Department of Human Services, City of McAlester, The Bank NA, McAlester News-Capital, T.H. Rogers Lumber Company, and the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance.
Kiamichi Technology Centers has been providing quality career and technology training, and services to high school students, adults, and business and industry partners since 1969.
MCAAP is one of 17 installations of the Joint Munitions Command and one of 23 organic industrial base facilities under the U.S. Army Materiel Command.