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Chops of Santa Rosa holds workshop to help teens with job search

Now he’s a state senator, but when he was 16 years old, Mike McGuire got turned down in his first attempt to land a paying job.

On Saturday morning, McGuire recalled that rejection while speaking in Santa Rosa to a gathering of teens getting ready to start their own job hunts. The legislator, whose 2nd District includes Sonoma County, said he afterward kept showing up weekly to the radio station that didn’t initially hire him until he received an internship and later a series of paid jobs. Eventually he was put in charge of the entire production department.

McGuire, now 37, gave the students the same advice his grandmother gave him as a youth growing up in Healdsburg: Work hard, work in cooperation with others and “don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

The senator was the keynote speaker Saturday at the #GetThatJob prep day at Chop’s Teen Club near Railroad Square.

The event, sponsored by the center and Social Advocates for Youth of Santa Rosa, was preparation for a youth job fair the public can attend Thursday evening. The job fair will bring in nearly 30 employers, including Mary’s Pizza Shack, In-N-Out Burger, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A and La Tortilla Factory.

On Saturday, about 40 teens attended workshop sessions, including one where they took part in one-on-one mock interviews with volunteers from the business community. Also, participants got help filling out job applications and received advice on how to prepare for job interviews.

“We want to make a good first impression,” Ahtziri Zamora, a Rancho Cotate High sophomore, said after attending a session on that topic.

Zamora and two Rancho Cotate classmates said doing so starts by dressing appropriately, with no low-hung trousers for young men and no ripped jeans for men or women.

But it also means showing interest in companies and asking good questions of job interviewers, sophomore Yasmin Banuelos said.

Sophomore Marelyn Carreno said it’s good to ask company representatives what they like about their work, but it’s not OK to ask how much money they make.

Those were the kinds of lessons that the event’s sponsors said they want students to take away Saturday.

“We’re hoping they get some of the basic skills and readiness to pursue a job and retain a job,” said Lorez Bailey, the teen club’s executive director.

Tony Abraham, community and career services manager for Social Advocates for Youth, said she hoped Saturday’s preparation also would help the young job seekers “feel really confident, ‘Hey, I can rock this.’??”

The prep day was the first sponsored by the two youth organizations. But Chop’s has conducted two previous job fairs with local businesses that hire teens.

This year’s job fair will be held 5 to ?7 p.m. Thursday at the teen center, ?509 Adams St. Volunteers will be on hand to assist youths with filling out job applications.

During a mock interview workshop Saturday, presenter Dario Aguilar of SAY told the young people to be prepared when asked to describe themselves. Ask friends beforehand what qualities they would list in describing you, he said.

Colleague Amanda Hernandez said interviewers might ask the youths to name their strengths and weaknesses. Even with the latter category, she said, try to offer a positive perspective.

For example, you might be a perfectionist, she said, but you can add, “I understand everything is not about ?me.”

Quincy Allen, a freshman at Santa Rosa High School, said he plans to attend the job fair and has an interest in working as a barista, partly because “you make something and have people enjoy it.”

Allen said the prep day was worthwhile because it better helps those new to the workforce compete with those who already have work experience.

“It allows us to have a higher chance of getting a job,” he said.

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