Junior Activity & Interview Day Helps Students Plan for the Future

Fall Semester 2021 of The Word Magazine | Madeline Zukowski, DSHA '11
DSHA’s college-preparatory curriculum assists each student to think critically and communicate effectively while preparing for her college experience. When a student reaches junior year, her academic workload has progressed to challenge her beyond what she experienced freshman and sophomore year. Junior year also marks the second half of high school, which presents thoughts and decisions of what is next.

To allow juniors the opportunity to jump start what is to come—the college search, college applications, as well as interviews for college, scholarships, jobs, and more, DSHA Student Services created the annual Junior Activity and Interview Day. The first of its kind took place 11 years ago, in November 2010. The day took place on November 5 this year.

Junior Activity and Interview Day takes a wholistic approach, “helping students see who they are, what they want, and their goals,” said Director of Student Services Jacky Krawczyk. By junior year, students’ soft interpersonal skills, or how they communicate and interact with those around them, is developing according to School Counselor Mallorie Svetlik. The entire day, from taking a step back from the stress that comes with junior year to connect with one another, to putting each girl’s communication and confidence into practice, helps the development of the skills she will need in the future.

“We are a college-prep school and we provide this unique experience that other schools may not provide,” said Krawczyk.
PART ONE: Class Bonding, Reflections, and Prayer

After spending time in fellowship during breakfast in the Quad, the DSHA Class of 2023 engaged in activities that helped them foster sisterhood and positively reflect on their education. First, they engaged in affirmations, stating what they appreciate about each member at their table, encouraging them to realize characteristics about themselves that they may not see. Second, they wrote letters of gratitude to someone who has impacted their education, like a favorite teacher or coach, having them reflect on the figures in their lives who have helped them achieve. Finally, they participated in a prayer service organized by their peers with scripture and a dissolving paper activity. The juniors were asked to write down something of which they wanted to let go, put the paper in water, and watch it fade away.

“Being able to spend time with each other and participate in activities like affirmations, practicing gratitude, and attending the prayer service brought me closer to my classmates and helped me to positively influence my wellbeing. Being able to spend the whole day together as a whole class gave us the opportunity to catch up, have fun, and spend some time on ourselves while being together." 
Paige Spicka, DSHA ’23

PART TWO: College and Career Readiness

The junior class spent the afternoon polishing the skills needed to prepare for their future in college and beyond. The afternoon was comprised of three sessions. The first focused on creating a resume, what should be included, and how to adjust a resume for different colleges and jobs. Naviance, the tool DSHA uses for college and career readiness, allows students to save different versions of their resumes to use as needed. Second, the juniors completed two surveys on Naviance, one to discover their subject areas of interest, and one to learn about possible career paths based on those interests—gaining the opportunity to start thinking about college majors and what the future may look like. Lastly, students spent time exploring colleges on Naviance, pinpointing which schools they might be interested in and the requirements for each college and university.

"Being a first-generation student, I have always thought of college as a far-off destination. I believed I would reach it but was not quite sure of the true meaning behind that goal. Having this day helped me realize college is a possibility, and talking about resumes, colleges, careers, and causes motivated me and got me excited for my next step in life and in beginning to pinpoint goals and career paths."
Yaleska Sosa-Azcarraga, DSHA ’23

PART THREE: The Interview

Opposite the college and career readiness activities, students were dressed in their best professional wear and were paired with a DSHA alumna or community member to practice interviewing. Beforehand, students answered a questionnaire that prepared them to speak about the Qualities of a DSHA Graduate and their faith formation experiences. The purpose of this helped students practice preparedness and learn about professional appearance and posture. The interviewer guided the student through the interview and was encouraged to give feedback in real time. Svetlik stated that both the students and interviewers commented it was a good experience, with the students growing in confidence, and adults having the opportunity to assist and connect with enthusiastic young women.

"The interview was an important opportunity for us to practice in a safe and low-stakes enviroment so we can improve before we interview in the real world. For example, I learned it's okay to pause and take a breath before answering a question. It helped me calm my nerves. Having the opportunity to practice helps me feel more confident and assures me I can interview well."
Lovely Petty, DSHA ’23

"The students were overall incredibly poised, prepared, and unshaken. They were thoughtful. This opportunity for students is very forward-thinking. It allows them to practice the types of skills they will need in future interviews and in communication in general. It's starting the process early, to learn to have the confidence to talk to someone you don't know and learn that it's okay to pat yourself on the back and talk about your strengths and passions."
Jenny Schmitt Nyquist, DSHA ’96*
Director of Human Resources at Sprecher Brewing Company
*Nyquist served as one of 42 interviewers for the day.
    • Tamara Wright, DSHA ’23, bonds with her peers.

    • Maellie Lewna, DSHA ’23, speaks during a college/career activity.

    • Jane Retzer, DSHA ’23, reflects at the prayer service.

    • Sophia Simon, DSHA ’23, talks with a classmate during a college/career activity


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