Nursing Students Prepare for New Careers

The UCF College of Nursing held mock job interviews for graduating seniors at the UCF Career Center on Wednesday, June 19. The interviews were open to students graduating this summer from the Accelerated Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

Dr. Linda Howe, an associate professor who teaches the students in a Leadership and Management in Nursing course, has spent the semester guiding them through the process of creating a resume and portfolio, and now preparing for the job interview.

“As second degree students, these students already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline and may also have experience in the workforce,” said Howe. “However, job interviews for entry-level graduate nurse positions differ from the types of questions asked in interviews for other disciplines. Nursing interviews ask specific situational questions related to clinical experience, helping a patient improve, or solving a conflict with a fellow healthcare employee, for example.”

Representatives from various community partners, including hospitals and military branches, volunteered their time to conduct the mock job interviews. Each student was allotted 30 minutes with the team of interviewers, allowing 20 minutes for the interview and 10 minutes to give and receive feedback.

Jacki Green, one of the students who participated in the mock job interviews, initially thought the mock interviews wouldn’t be that helpful to them because so many of the students in her graduating class have already gone on interviews for their prior careers.

“I was completely mistaken in thinking these wouldn’t be helpful,” she said. “I gained confidence in my interviewing skills and was able to organize my thoughts for the ‘real’ interview, incorporating aspects of my prior work experience and how that would help me as a new graduate.”

The experience was such a success that Green has since been invited to participate in a second interview with one of the regional hospitals as a direct result of her mock interview.

“These situational mock interviews are an important step in preparing our students for the real thing after commencement,” said Howe. “I think it’s very noteworthy that so many of our community partners were willing to volunteer several hours of their day to interview our students.”

In the past, students have been asked to facilitate their own mock interviews, which is a requirement for the class. This year, the UCF College of Nursing partnered with UCF Career services to organize the event so that nursing students could find the support and experience they needed right here on campus.

“This kind of program has been offered to students in other majors in the past,” said Heather Engelking, assistant director of employer relations. “I pitched the idea to organize mock interviews for nursing students to Dr. Howe during the last career fair. We’re really excited for the partnership.”

While the inaugural event was open to just the Accelerated Second Degree B.S.N. students, the college hopes to expand the program so that it can be offered more broadly in the future.

In addition to the mock interviews, the college hosts an annual Nursing Career Fair each spring. During this event, representatives from local hospitals, various health care agencies and military branches are present to answer questions and talk to the students about future career opportunities and the application process for entry-level nursing positions within their organizations.