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Salem High School senior Katelyn Tetu meets with a member of the Salem Chamber of Commerce Business/Education Collaborative group during the 2019 Interview Challenge .

Salem High School senior Katelyn Tetu arrived to school early this morning. Her interview isn't until 8:35 am in the high school commons, but the nerves are already present. As an experienced musical performer and vocalist, she’s used to getting butterflies. But today’s performance will be something totally different.

“When I’m in a show playing a character, I don’t really get nervous,” Katelyn explains. “Here I’m being myself…it’s about my life and the stakes are higher.”

Katelyn is competing with dozens of other students in the annual Interview Challenge, a joint project between Salem High School’s Work-Based Learning Program and the Salem Chamber of Commerce Business/Education Collaborative group. In preparation, she dressed up, created a binder with references and a resume, and studied some sample interview questions she found online.

“I’ve only had one interview before and I need the experience,” Katelyn adds. “I’m going off to college next year and will need to meet new professors and apply for jobs when I’m there.”

"The annual interview challenge competition is an amazing opportunity for our students to prepare themselves for the real world,” explains Shannon Tarr, SHS work-based learning instructor.

“They are experiencing a real life mock interview that will help each of them improve their interviewing skills, boost their confidence, and become stronger candidates for their future interviews.”

Students from Salem and Pelham High Schools are sitting down for one-on-one interviews with business leaders from the local community in round one of a multi-phased competition. Only six will move on to a second round of interviews, with the top performers being selected for a third round with members of the chamber. From there, a winner is crowned, and prizes are awarded.

JoAnne Desrosiers is the chair of the chamber’s Business/Education Collaborative and a branch service manager with Enterprise Bank in Salem. She believes strongly that the business community has an active role to play in helping guide the next generation.

“The Interview Challenge is a great way for the business community to give back,” she says. “Although it’s a competition, we’re really here to give them advice and constructive criticism.” Desrosiers hopes the students leave with a level of awareness about the interview process, greater sense of confidence, and a resource they can turn to later in life.

The partnership between the Salem Chamber of Commerce and the Salem School District pays dividends for both the businesses and students. “We’re fortunate to have a business community that feels invested in the Salem schools,” says Tarr. “These real-world connections provide students with opportunities to extend their learning.”

SHS Award Winners

Tetu Takes Top Honors

Salem High School senior Katelyn Tetu took first place in the 2019 Interview Challenge and was honored in a ceremony held at the Black Water Grill in Salem.

The contest tasked 24 students from both Salem and Pelham High Schools with conducting "mock interviews" with members of the business community. Tetu advanced through two rounds of interviews to represent Salem High School in the finals against Pelham's top student. Her interview for her "dream job" of becoming an ESOL teacher before a panel of  Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce members won her top honors.

Tetu plans to attend Plymouth State University in the fall as a Spanish and Secondary Education major, with a minor in Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages.

At the same event, Salem High School senior Molly Goodnow was awarded one of three scholarships presented by the Chamber. Goodnow will be attending George Washington University where she will pursue studies to become an occupational therapist and later work with children with special needs.

Students gain experience creating resumes, making a good first impression, and learning to express themselves in front of actual business people.

JoAnne Desrosiers (left), chair of the Salem Chamber of Commerce Business/Education Collaborative group reviews student evaluations with Shannon Tarr, Salem High School work-based learning instructor during the Inteview Challenge in the SHS Commons.