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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Respiratory Therapy students and grads have a powerful job search weapon

June 16, 2015
Career services advisor Margarita Rankin
Margarita Rankin prepares students with job search skills that will serve them all their lives.

When Career Services Advisor Margarita Rankin talks about how to land the job of your dreams, you would do well to listen carefully. Her job search strategies have helped the SJVC Respiratory Therapy students and graduates she has worked with find that very important first position.

Margarita grooms job-seekers like a ring-side coach who shares the powerful dynamic of a perfect one-two punch. Pow. Bam.

“Most students think they are going to get their first position right out of school by applying online,” says Margarita. “This, however, is not the case. People do business with people they know, like and trust. To make that happen, you have to get in front of them.”

Then comes the tricky part. When you get that face-time, you had better know how to use it.

“Employers are only thinking about two things: Can you do the job I need you to do; and are you going to fit in well with my team,” says Margarita, who knows how to tutor her students to get the position they are seeking.

“If students are willing to do the work and the preparation it takes to present themselves in the most professional and confident way, they will succeed,” she says.

Margarita’s job search preparation includes five important behaviors and actions:

  1. Network! Take every opportunity to involve yourself in your chosen field. Join clubs, organizations, volunteer services, or attend events in your industry.
  2. The First Impression. Introductions are very important. Create a professional, yet personal first impression. Whether it is an interview, externship, or event attendance, show your interest and confidence.
  3. The “Elevator Speech.” Develop a 60-90 second narrative that answers the question, “Tell me about yourself.” Cover your interest in and preparation for their industry and your plan to take a professional place in that world.
  4. Strengths and Weaknesses. A predictable interview question that provides opportunities to shine…or flounder. There is a way to be honest without creating doubts and concerns.
  5. Interviewee Questions. Be prepared to ask intelligent questions about the facility, department or practices.  The interview exchange gives both parties a vote.

Margarita would never instruct her Respiratory Therapy students on how to misrepresent themselves, but rather to strive toward their highest level of professionalism and then hit the spotlight to showcase themselves.

“It starts from the first day of their program; building professionalism and relationships with employers,” she affirms. “Students didn’t come to school to sell themselves, but one comes with the other, and you have to put yourself out there.”

Professional presentation comes naturally to Margarita. “It doesn’t matter what kind of job I ever interviewed for, they always wanted to put me in sales,” offers Margarita, whose 20-year-old daughter, Amanda, has benefited from a life of proximity to this job-grooming guru.

“Amanda was recruited for her first job when she was 16,” says Margarita. “Wherever she interviews, she always gets the job offer within 24 hours, based on mom’s training,” she laughs.

Margarita is not a one-person show, however. She is quick to point out that it takes an extended team on the Rancho Cordova campus to give SJVC students and graduates what they need to be successful.

“The support I receive from the Rancho Cordova team – Campus Director, front desk, my supervisor Amy Bianco, and my instructors – is phenomenal,” she says. “I would not be successful without them.”

“Margarita has a very positive attitude and is great at motivating her graduates to achieve their career goals,” says Amy Bianco, Dean of Student Services. “She has a heart of gold and is very passionate about her job!”

Margarita keeps a close eye on all her students and enjoys their excitement as they get close to completion of their program. “As soon as their last day is over, they are all racing to the phone to sign up for their testing (Respiratory Therapy license), so they can tell everyone at graduation, ‘I passed my test!.'”

Margarita gives all of her students the same thing she gives her daughter: The skills needed to successfully search for jobs throughout their careers, and the ability to say “yes” with confidence. It is a skill that will serve them all their lives.

“Amanda takes my advice about employment because it works for her, and she knows that she can go out and get a job in 24 hours,” says Margarita. “I give those same tools to my students.”

Margarita sees herself as an enthusiastic liaison between students and employers, helping both parties find what they need in each other. A long history of successful career services support testifies to the fact that her brand of practical magic always works.