MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

July 6, 2014

Youth program offers job experience

Participants spend summer gaining skills in their prospective careers

Helping teens find summer jobs could help Muskogee student Ravene Bolden reach her goal to be a social worker.

Bolden, 19, participates in the Eastern Workforce Investment Board’s summer youth program, which is geared to giving young people work experience needed for their careers.

The program helps eligible youths between 14 and 21 with education and job skill training, said Juan Davis, Workforce youth career manager.

About 60 participants are working at sites in the seven counties EWIB serves, Davis said.

“I just enrolled a youth last week, and we’re going to place him in a project in Council Hill,” Davis said.

People may apply at the Oklahoma Workforce center serving their counties and speak with the youth case manager, he said. EWIB counties are Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Adair, Sequoyah and Okmulgee.

“We have summer employment opportunities and place youth in summer work experiences,” Davis said. “We usually try to gear jobs to what their career goals are. For instance, if someone wants to go into nursing, we try to put them into a summer work experience position in a hospital or a doctor’s office.”

Bolden is spending this summer working at the EWIB office. She works in the youth resource room, where participants can explore jobs, fill out applications or build resumes.

“I just like the opportunity it gives, the experience it gives, the leadership, tutoring and different stuff like that,” said Bolden, who has been involved in the program since she was 16.

She said she helps other youths find jobs through the OKJobMatch program. Sometimes she works in the Oklahoma Workforce office reception area.

“Juan put me in this office to work on my social skills because I’m majoring in sociology,” she said. “I want to become a social worker.”

A 2013 Muskogee High School graduate, Bolden now attends Connors State College.

Davis said Bolden “is getting work experience working with people and meeting her career goals.”

EWIB Program Operations Manager Connie Sharp said the program helps participants develop good work habits such as showing up on time and dressing appropriately.

For Jodie Simpson, 19, that means donning a safety vest.

“I manicure Honor Heights Park,” said Simpson, who plans to attend OSU Institute of Technology after this summer. “I weed-eat, help plant flowers.”

Sharp said the program helps give participants experience they need for their resume.

“If they are really good, the same work site wants them summer after summer after summer,” Sharp said. “Or even hire them.”

Davis said one participant, who is studying to be a paralegal, is working at a law office. The attorney has indicated an interest in hiring her, Davis said.

The youth program is not just limited to summer, said Danna Minnick, EWIB youth coordinator.

“We work with them all year long,” Minnick said. “They go to meetings, which cover different topics they might face in their day-to-day lives.”

They also do job shadowing.

Sharp said the summer program lasts until the participant returns to school. Participants must apply for the yearlong program to participate in the summer program, she said.

“We offer programs for when they are in school — workshops, tutoring, mentoring,” Sharp said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

How to participate

To get involved in the Eastern Workforce Investment Board’s Summer Youth Program, apply at a Workforce Oklahoma Center serving your county: For Muskogee County, 717 S. 32nd St., Muskogee, (918) 682-3364. For Cherokee County, 1755 S. Muskogee Ave., Tahlequah, (918) 456-8846.

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