Rock the Mock

Students from Central, Live Oak and Ann Sobrato high schools in Morgan Hill had a chance to experience what it’s like to interview for a job or college in a real world environment during the Rock the Mock event April 5 at Specialized Bicycle Components in Morgan Hill.

Rock the Mock was conceived by the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce and the Morgan Hill Unified School District as a way for businesses to help students learn what it is like to interview with a real company.  

High school students already receive classroom instruction on resume writing and they discuss the interview process, but Rock the Mock takes it to a whole new level.

Students became “candidates” and were split into groups in which they were led by Specialized hosts to a variety of skill building workshops, one-on-one interviews and related presentations by professional interviewers and human resources personnel.

“School resources are extremely limited in their ability to support students in this way,” said Karen Havstad, a Specialized employee who helped organize the event. “As business leaders in the community, we can help guide students through their first steps into the workforce.”   

Specialized executives Robert Egger, Rachael Lambert and Mark Cote gave a presentation titled “When passion meets preparation, good things happen”. Greg Pappas then gave the students an inside look at what the HR interviewer is looking for as well as numerous tips for success. 

“There are two things that you have control over; one is your attitude and the other is your effort,” he told the students.

In the Specialized Theater, three short films were shown on the culture and passion of the Specialized Bicycle Component Co. and presenters took questions from the candidates. In other skill building sessions, candidates were coached on interview skills, appearance and demeanor so that they learned to excel in the interview process. Models from Cherisse’s Hair Salon led a presentation workshop covering proper handshakes, showed the do’s and don’ts of dressing and proper hygiene for an interview. Toastmasters of Morgan Hill took the lead in discussing the interview process where presenter Roy Terry used an American Idol theme; asking the candidates if they were “In it, to win it?”. Throughout the event Specialized team members escorted the candidates and gave them insight into the inner workings of an international organization like Specialized. The Candidates were tightly scheduled by “flow masters” Jim Carrillo & Nancy Lowe of Toastmasters and all student candidates were trained, interviewed, entertained and educated in under four hours. On their way to the buses that would return them to their respective schools, each candidate received a Specialized water bottle imprinted with reminders to: “Breathe! Believe in yourself. Dress to impress. Use a firm handshake. …and don’t forget to smile!”

When asked why this Rock the Mock was important, Karen Havstad and Nancy LaRocque of Specialized said: “School resources are extremely limited in their ability to support students in this way.  As business leaders in the community, we can help guide students through their first steps into the workforce.”  The students left this event more confident and likely to become better equipped employees. Havstad and LaRocque were excited about the event and said: “All who were involved from Specialized received an incredible amount of satisfaction and pride with this event.”

John Horner, Chair of the MHCC Education Committee, Owner of Thinker Toys and one of the early instigators behind Rock the Mock, said: “We made a real difference with some young people and created a strong foundation for whatever we choose to take on in the future. Everyone from the schools and volunteer body I had the chance to talk with expressed strong appreciation for what you had happen today and a desire to work together in the future”.  

Bob Benevento, a school board member said: “My daughter raved about her experience at Rock the Mock.”  The most common response from volunteers when asked about how the day went: “I was amazed by what great young people we have in our community.”


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