Tester staff writer
Nearly 200 teens, anxious for summer employment, crowded the Center Stage Theater on March 31 for the annual Career Launch program presentation, all vying for a limited number of job opportunities across Naval Air Station Patuxent River.
Spilling out the lobby doors and lining the walkway, the teens waited patiently to sign in, pick up their packet of necessary paperwork, schedule an interview and listen to presentations on resume writing, interview tips and money management.
"This was a record turnout," said Sabrina Barnes, education tech lead at the Rassieur Youth Center and coordinator of the Career Launch program. "We made up 150 folders and we ran out with people still waiting in line."
The Career Launch program is divided into two categories: Leaders in Training (LIT), comprising 13- and 14-year-old volunteers who can apply their hours toward the community service requirement they need to graduate high school; and Work Wise, for teens ages 15 to 18 years, earning minimum wage.
"The purpose of the program is to help teens obtain basic entry level job skills and we'd like to assist everyone who's interested in working, but it's not possible to place them all," Barnes said.
The older Work Wise teens are paid through the fiscal 2014 Teen Employment Program grant received from Commander, Naval Installations Command, and funding covers only 52 job opportunities, explained Barnes.
"With the turnout this year, we're going to have to make a lot of cuts," she said
Last year, Barnes placed 52 Work Wise and 23 LIT students in 16 different work sites across the installation and the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) marketing department was one of those sites.
Marketing and Sponsorship Director Dave Cardinale explained that the two students assigned to his area took photos of all MWR facilities and any events taking place; and while they required initial guidance in marketing layouts and tips for what makes an interesting photograph, they learned quickly and applied that knowledge toward creating promotional slides used in fliers and on the MWR website.
"They got some great shots and were extremely helpful taking updated photos of more than 15 facilities," Cardinale said. "It's something we had been wanting to do, but could never find the time."
Teens also worked in the Auto Hobby Shop assigning and scheduling work bays, recycling auto fluids and managing the tool crib; at Mattapany Day Camp helping with the kids and doing simple chores; in customer service at Information, Tickets and Tours; with Environmental conducting bald eagle and Diamondback Terrapin surveys, assisting with educational programs and feeding animals; in the Customized Creations shop making engraving plates and working in Corel Draw; and with Emergency Management clearing out and organizing a backlog of filing.
While the number of Work Wise job opportunities are limited by available funding, positions are always being sought for the younger LITs to fill.
Departments across the installation are encouraged to consider an area where an eager-to-learn volunteer youth might be of help. The workload should be age appropriate and someone in the department must serve as the worksite advisor. Barnes said because this is a learning process for the teens, most having never held a job before, the worksite advisor must be willing to teach, shape and assist the teens when necessary.
"We want to maximize the number of LITs we can help by getting them those valuable work skills, but we're in need of more worksites willing to offer the teens that opportunity," Barnes said.
Work Wise teens work 16 hours per week; two eight-hour days or four
Leaders in Training teens work 3-4 hours per day, Mondays and Fridays.
Work program runs July 1 to Aug. 15.
If you have a job a teen can do, or for more information, contact Sabrina
Barnes at 301-995-4177 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no cost to participating departments.