News and Tribune

Floyd County

July 12, 2013

Not yet on the clock: Teens gain work experience through volunteer program

NEW ALBANY —

Get a job. 

That’s not an uncommon demand placed on teenagers, but programs that teach youths basic work skills can sometimes be hard to find. 

An exception is the New Albany Parks Department’s inaugural Teen Work Experience program, which wrapped up Thursday, leaving organizers satisfied that participants have the training they need to secure a job. 

“We’re really thrilled with the response we’ve had from teens,” said Kathy Wilkerson, interim director of the city parks department. “We’ve taught them what a real job entails.” 

An added bonus: Teens in the program could be considered for future parks department jobs.

“They’re going to be higher up on the priority list because they’ve been through this training,” Wilkerson said.

From filling out a job application to sharpening social skills needed in a work environment, participants gained knowledge about a wide range of employment standards and qualifications.

The sessions quickly grew in popularity. Ten teenagers showed up in June for the free program, but the number more than tripled this month to 32. 

Ryan Burns, a teacher with the program, held classes covering topics such as work ethics and teamwork. 

“This being a pilot program, I think it’s been very successful,” he said. “I think they’ve already learned quite a bit.” 

Most of the teens that went through the training attend either Christian Academy or New Albany High School.

Christian Academy student Kiersten Carruthers, 17, completed the program along with several of her soccer teammates. 

She said the teamwork drills during Teen Work Experience will be beneficial on the soccer pitch as well as when seeking jobs. 

There’s also some unique aspects of the program compared to the typical school setting, Carruthers said. 

“It’s more hands-on, which is better,” she said. 

The initiative was designed for teenagers between 15 and 17 years old. Wilkerson said that’s the age group that usually struggles to find jobs due to a lack of experience. But experience is exactly what the area high students got through the program.

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