Google Docs templates help students submit staff applications

Google Forms is certainly a wise choice for staff applications, but this year I went back to some old-fashioned ways of learning who wants to be on next year’s newspaper and for what leadership position he/she wants to apply.

In addition to answering four questions (below), students submitted cover letters and resumes.

Of course, Google Docs didn’t disappoint.  Students quickly found templates, and all their fears subsided.

What did I get out of it as an adviser?  Not only have I introduced students to a 21st century skill, but I can see a student’s writing abilities, analytical skills, and motivation.  This was their final exam.

So, if I see a funny typo on a cover letter request for editor-in-chief from a student who will have been with me three years her senior year, do I trust that she can — as she promises in her application questions — make the school newspaper “mistake free”?  Her cover letter begins with “I am writing in regards of the Editor in Chief application for The Borah Senator.  I am very interesting (sic) and would love to be considered for the position.”

Do I hire an advertising manager based on a resume that lists “Mom is senior vice president of marketing (at her company) and has taught me professional communication skills” — plus under Communication Skills, he lists that he is a “Natural loudspeaker (sic).”

What isn’t surprising is that most of my returning students want to be editor-in-chief, but what is delightfully shocking is that several of my upcoming students want to be advertising manager.  Sorting will begin, but I’m very satisfied with many of my students’ first go at a professional job application.

Below are exemplary answers to the questions students submitted with their cover letters and resumes.

1. Why do you want this position?

“I am applying for these positions, because they are all a leadership position in something I have found passion in.”

2. What experience on the newspaper makes you qualified for this position?

“I think I should be highly considered for this position because other than having a great feel for the subject I was also the only student in my class to pass the state marketing, business and advertising test.”

3. What would you contribute next year, if you were “hired” for this position?

“If I get Advertising Manager, I want it so that we have a day every single week where we work on ads and only ads.”

4. Why, essentially, should you be highly considered for this position?

“I would be concerned with how the staff works together not only the published issue.”

Michelle Harmon

Michelle Harmon is in her 13th year of teaching and advising the school newspaper at Borah High School in Boise, Idaho. She is state director of Idaho JEA and President of the Idaho Student Journalism Association.

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