Northwest job coach helping students sharpen employability skills

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SENATOBIA, MS (05/07/2018) These days, everyone can use a little help when it comes to finding a job, creating a resume' or preparing for an interview. At Northwest Mississippi Community College, the Career, Technical and Workforce Education Division is actively helping its students sharpen their employability skills.

According to Dwayne Casey, associate dean of Workforce Development and Manufacturing Education the college applied for and received a grant from Families First for Mississippi to create a position for a Job/Employability Coach. In July 2017, the college hired Presley Casto to fill that role.

Casto has basically created a program for the students to prepare them to go into the work world. "I developed five modules using Mississippi Works and Career Ready 101. I am constantly updating it and revising it to keep it up to date. I plan to try to revise and update it again this summer. Over the last two semesters, I have been able to see what works best for our students and things I need to emphasize more," Casto said.

Students in Northwest's Career and Technical classes can use Canvas, the college's learning management system, to complete five modules. Casto also teaches the modules in person in some classes.

Casto explained that Parts 1 and 2 are soft skills, such as communication, dealing with customers and co-workers, team work, correct usage of cell phones during work hours and getting to work on time. The third module is resume' building and cover letters. "This is probably the most valuable and biggest part of this whole program. The hardest part is that it is not 'one size fits all' and what a Graphic Design Technology student needs for their resume is entirely different than what a John Deere Automotive Technology student will need," Casto said.

She said that each module has a lecture and a quiz, but that in Module 3, students are required to submit a resume' for a grade. She provides one-on one resume assistance to students as well. "Once they get it back, they can get credit back on their grade as they make changes to perfect their resume'. It is a good motivator for them to get their resume' ready," Casto said.

The fourth module focuses on job searching and how and where to look for jobs and fill out applications and how to manage their social media while job hunting. In the fifth module, students learn interview strategies. Casto has the students go through a mock interview to help students learn to present themselves well and answer questions effectively.

"For me the most important factor of this job is that the students feel like they are valuable to somebody, because they are. I know our instructors are teaching them how to be successful in their field, and they have the skills they are learning through our program. I just want to be the vehicle that allows them to be able to display that to an employer," Casto said.

Casto is a native of Hattiesburg. She began her education at Pearl River Community College where she was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She earned a Bachelor of Administration in Marketing from Belhaven University in Jackson, graduating cum laude. She was a member of Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society for students in business, management, and administration while at Belhaven. Previously, Casto was employed with WAPT Channel 16 News in Jackson as a digital client specialist and The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality as a recruiter and in hiring. She has a basic supervisory certification, a human resources certification and has been trained in technical writing.

"We are fortunate to have Ms. Casto on our team and thank Families First for Mississippi for their assistance in funding. Ms. Casto has done an excellent job in her first year. I look forward to the improvements that she is implementing for next year to help prepare our students for the workforce," said David Campbell, district dean for career, technical and workforce education."

For more information on Northwest's Career, Technical and Workforce Education programs, please visit the college's website at or call Sarah Williams at 662-562-3361.

Pictured: Northwest Mississippi Community College's Job/Employability Coach Presley Casto speaks to a group of students at Northwest's Lafayette Yalobusha Technical Center during a recent Career Expo. (Photo by Katie Broadway)