Jacob Bucher has a pretty good idea of what he’d like to be someday: an athletic director.

That’s part of the reason the Crescent Valley High School junior said he didn’t feel stressed before his mock job interview on Tuesday morning.

“I was really confident,” Bucher said. “So I wasn’t nervous at all. Plus I’m pretty sociable.”

Even so, Bucher learned a lot during his 15 minutes with Dennis Muscato, who is the interprofessional education manager at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest’s campus in Lebanon.

“He told me I need to expand on what I want to do, like be more specific,” Bucher said. “I’ve got to make myself stand out more.”

Bucher was among more than 800 high school juniors who participated in the fifth annual Benton County Career Convention, held at the CH2M Hill Alumni Center and the LaSells Stewart Center at Oregon State University.

Students from Corvallis, Crescent Valley, College Hill, Philomath, Santiam Christian, Alsea and Falls City attended the event, which helps them fulfill the career exploration requirements they need for graduation.

During the all-day event, they also listened to career speakers, visited career information booths and networked with professionals.

The career convention could help students as they prepare to enter the job market.

According to a 2012 report published by the Oregon Employment Department, Oregon’s teenagers had the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation in 2010, behind California and Nevada. The rate for Oregonians ages 16-19 that year was 28.8 percent; for ages 20 to 24, 17 percent.

“It’s tough to find jobs right now,” Bucher said. “So anything you can do to help yourself prepare is extremely valuable.”

And for most students, participating in the mock interviews was the highlight of the event, even if they were nervous. Community leaders, business professionals and OSU students helped to serve as interviewers.

Corvallis High School junior Brooklyn Coe said that Tuesday marked her first real interview experience.

“I was really nervous before the interview,” Coe said. “But she was really nice, and I relaxed.”

Coe said that her interviewer told her that supervisors expect job candidates to be nervous during a job interview.

“So she told me to be calm and be myself,” Coe said. “To be happy, and to smile.”

Raju Woodward can be contacted at 541-758-9526 or raju.woodward@lee.net.

Raju Woodward is the K-12 education reporter for the Gazette-Times. He can be reached at 541-758-9526 or raju.woodward@lee.net

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