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Confidence Foundation hosts interview workshop for Chicago area teens

Confidence Foundation, a mentorship program based on the South Side, is trying to give young men and women the proper tools to set them up for success.

Norman Scales with the Confidence Foundation helps a student put on Burberry blazer during the foundation’s “Suited with Confidence” event at Tesla Gold Coast.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Interviewing for a job can be nerve-racking and stressful for anyone, especially for a young adult trying to get their first one. But the Confidence Foundation, a mentorship organization based on the South Side, is trying to give young men and women the proper tools to set them up for success.

The foundation hosted an interview workshop for about 20 high school juniors and seniors and first-year college students Wednesday evening at the Tesla dealership in Gold Coast. It was the first of what the organization’s co-founder Robin Harris hopes to be many of these events.

During the two-hour event, the young men and women learned the best practices for interviewing, from what to say when you don’t know the answer to a question to what to wear.

And since looking the part is half the battle, every participant received a fancy black blazer, donated by Burberry. Several participants also raved about the chance to ride through the city in a Tesla.

Students listen as Norman Scales of the Confidence Foundation speaks to them at the “Suited with Confidence” event at Tesla Gold Coast.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Jacobi Mitchell, 17, attended the event with his twin brother, Jasper. He said these types of career advancing opportunities are “very needed.”

“You see so many times that people have the capacity to do so many things, and I feel like [if] you don’t give them an opportunity, it’s just lost on them,” said Mitchell, who graduated from Kenwood Academy this spring. “So I feel like once you give people who have the capacity [an] opportunity, it just opens a chance for greatness. And I think that’s so important, and I just love this opportunity for that.”

Harris and her husband, Norman Scales, founded the Confidence Foundation with the goal of pushing young adults to pursue their passions and consider science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and math-related fields — something she said she didn’t have growing up on the West Side.

“We kind of had to learn on our own, you know, what to do, and learn the hard way... it’s just us paying it forward and providing something that we know is a need,” Harris said.

Robin Harris and Norman Scales, both with the Confidence Foundation, speak to students at their “Suited with Confidence” event at Tesla Gold Coast.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Jada Watson was grateful to attend Wednesday’s event. She said she’s already experienced firsthand how intimidating the interview process can be.

“I just winged it,” the 17-year-old from south suburban Flossmoor said. “I know you’re supposed to dress nice, but what to say when people ask you questions in interviews — I’m always stuck.

“I think this will help me with interviews [and] obtain more jobs and more opportunities because I’ll have more professional knowledge, professional practice. I’m definitely positive I’ll walk out of here with more than I came in with.”