MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 1, 2012

Career fair helps students avoid ‘Future Shock’

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— “Future Shock” didn’t seem all that shocking to Oklahoma School for the Blind sophomore William Reaume.

With a coral-colored tie and matching shirt, plus a rehearsed, assured voice, William came prepared Thursday morning for Future Shock, the school’s annual college and career awareness fair. The event featured sessions with college and university representatives as well as area employers.

“I wanted to set a good example,” said William, who lives near Boynton. “It helps to know these things. It helps kids who are kind of sheltered and need to talk to people and learn what the real world is like.”

Speaker Amy Hamby, an employee training specialist with the Cherokee Nation vocational rehabilitation services, praised William and other OSB students who dressed up for the event. First impressions are vital during a job interview, she said.

“One way to show your self-confidence is to be still, don’t fidget,” Hamby said.

“Posture is important,” Hamby said as the OSB high school and middle school students sat up straighter. “Notice how, when you sit up straighter, you feel more confident?”

And handshakes? Wipe your hands first if they feel sweaty, she said.

Hamby also made sure participants knew what to say during those crucial job interviews.

“They don’t want to hear that you have a pony or a dog named Spot,” she said.

Never ask about pay or benefits. Prospective employers want to know what work skills a person has, she said.

“I’m good at working on cars,” OSB student Jacob King of Muskogee said.

“I want to work with children or with animals,” said Destiny Tanyan of Wewoka.

When Hamby asked each student some mock interview questions, William said he would like to have a farm and has been active in 4-H and band.

Naming such activities is a good way to show your involvement, dependability and knack for teamwork, Hamby said.

“I like what I did in 4-H at my public school, Midway,” William said.

Destiny said the Future Shock event boosted her confidence.

“Vision impaired is not who we are,” she said. “It’s what we can do and what we cannot do. The only thing that affects us in life is our vision. We still use our other senses.”

In another session, Marilyn Sanders with the Department of Rehabilitation Services talked about transportation and budgeting issues students may face when they’re on their own. She said paratransit services in Tulsa and Oklahoma City could be far less expensive than taking a taxi, but will still cost.

“Paratransit is $3 a day, plus $1 if you call ahead. A taxi can be $25 one way,” Sanders said. “You have to learn to budget, not only rent and food, and a little bit of money for entertainment. You have to allow for transportation.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.