My First Interview

Preparing Our Future Employees Through Hire Me First



The day, March 19, 2001; the time, 9:30 a.m. My hands were sweaty, my heart was pounding, and my mind was racing as I tried to remember the speech I had prepared in my head. “Shake their hand, make eye contact, and whatever you do, don’t forget to smile,” I repeated in my head and over and over again. I was sitting in one of the classrooms at Tracy High waiting for my name to be called so that I could do my first mock interview.

At the time, I was scared out of my mind not knowing if I would make a fool out of myself or if I would say the wrong thing. Lucky for me, when my name did get called, the gentle smile and warm handshake of the person who was “interviewing” me calmed all my nerves, and put me at ease with his compliments and encouraging words. How did I do, well you can see for yourself:

Mock interview

Hire Me First Certification

Over 14 years ago, I, myself, was involved in the first workforce development program the Chamber started which was then called the Tracy Industry Education Partnership (TIEP) and because I completed all the necessary requirements, I received my Hire Me First Certification. What did a Hire Me First Certification mean to me? Well, at the time, it made me feel like I was more prepared and aware of what it would be like to have to interview for a job, I felt confident about what career I wanted to pursue and more importantly, I learned what it takes to keep a job. Did I pursue the original career path I selected back then as a senior in high school? No, I am not a 1st grade teacher; turns out I don’t have the patience I thought I did :). However, today, I still feel that everything I learned through the mock interviews, job training workshops, and job shadowing were helpful experiences that made a positive impact on my life.

I never imagined 14 years later I would be participating in the Hire Me First Program as a committee member and supporter. During my time at the Chamber, I have participated in several mock interviews on the other side of the table, this time, interviewing students and giving them feedback on their interview. Each time I participate, I make sure to display the same kindness and sincerity of the person who performed my mock interview many years ago. I remember how it felt to be the student and I want the student walk away with the same feeling of relief and joy I did when it was over.


How Can YOU Get Involved?

The Hire Me First Program runs during the calendar school year, and during the summer months while school is not in session, our Program Coordinator, Alyssa Mupo, will be focusing on recruiting new employers to participate by offering internships at their business or participating in mock interviews. Once school resumes in August, Alyssa will work with each high school to begin coordinating job readiness workshops and mock interviews to prepare juniors and seniors to have an internship.

Offer an Internship

If you are not yet a registered employer for Hire Me First and would be willing to have an intern at your office, I encourage you to touch base with Alyssa Mupo, . Interns are great at performing tasks such as answering phones, filing, creating flyers, web updates, mailings, etc. We have had an intern at the Chamber every year and I can honestly tell you, these students are very sharp, eager to learn, and many times teach me a thing or two. I know the thought of having an intern may seem like “more work” and I am not going to lie, it does require some preparation of tasks/projects for the intern to do. But, in the long run, if you dedicate time and strategize on how to best use your intern, it’s a WIN-WIN for both of you.

Participate in Mock Interviews

If you don’t have time to offer an internship, consider participating in our annual mock interviews. We interview over 500 students every year and are always in need of business professionals to assist in the activity. Mock interviews are a great opportunity for you to share your own skills and knowledge with students and give them some good pointers they can use for their first “real” interview.

Support Hire Me First

Whether you consider offering an internship, or help with mock interviews, or both, I hope with my blog post today that you were able to learn about the Chamber’s Hire Me First Program, and that you will help us spread the word about the program. If you are interested in participating in Hire Me First, please contact our program coordinator, Alyssa Mupo at

Please take a minute and click on the link below to watch our new Hire Me First video which illustrates what our program is all about:

-Sofia Valenzuela, CEO, Tracy Chamber of Commerce,

1 Comment

  1. Melissa Jimenez on February 5, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    I want to thank Alyssa for allowing me the opportunity to participate as an interviewer. I am excited and hope that I can make at least a small difference to these teens on their journey in life!