Friday, August 14, 2009

Youth Jobs

I grew up in a mid-sized town in Florida. One day at a school assembly in the gym or cafeteria a person from Bob Evans came to speak to my high school about the franchise they were about to open up near the interstate. They were taking applications for waitstaff, bussers, etc and said it would be great after school work. I and a bunch of my friends applied. A guy named Michael from my group of friends got the job and held it from the time he was a junior until graduation. I, miffed that I didn't get hired, started applying at other places around town and got a job at the Winn-Dixie at the age of 16. One of my friends got a job there too as bagger then stocker but about a year later got fired after an angry exchange with the store manager. Closer to DC and this century, my cousins in Laurel had the typical high school jobs working in the food service industry at the multi-national corporations of Pizza-Hut and Wendy's.
So someone explain to me the city's summer jobs programs. I'm a bit confused. Can't kids get year round after school jobs? Which I believe is good prep for balancing college and "work-study". So far this year we've seen youth produced green litter, tree destruction, and vandalism?/shoddy workmanship.
Before this year my knowledge of the program came from my (now retired) aunts' description of whatever city sponsored intern was assigned to her at NGS. Some students were hits, with a great attitude, self-motivated, and talented with a wonderful work ethic. But there were several misses, of students who didn't follow instructions, barely showed up on time, and screwed up so badly that she had to undo their work/damage. The bad ones were sometimes so clueless to their poor work that one asked for a referral letter. Then again, I've encountered college aged interns that bad too.
Getting back to the city program, what I don't get is do these kids, or don't they, have after-school work opportunities throughout the year? Is it cheaper than summer school, which serves the same purpose of keeping them out of trouble?
I guess what I'm trying to say is this large city sponsored youth employment thing is foreign to me. I'm not entirely sure what it succeeds in doing well. So somebody explain it to me.

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6 Comments:

At 8/15/2009 2:29 PM, Anonymous jimbo said...

If a kid was doing a year-round job I'd say it would be tough to keep up during the school year, especially if he or she wanted to participate in extracurricular stuff like football or drama (stage). I know it was tough when I was working at Dairy Queen. I could work a lot more hours in the summer but school-year work schedules were tough to fill in between all my extracurriculars.

What is clear to me with this green shirt program is that the program's leaders didn't ask what the residents wanted in the first place, and they didn't train the kids on how to follow through or how to do each task properly. It's skills, process and supervision, all of which are missing. I'd say with a crew of 10 kids you could do a lot of good, but there needs to be 1 skilled person managing them. Howabout Americorps volunteers? But even the managers need to be trained too - like teaching the kids what not to trim, how to a good job of painting and such. They aren't born with knowing how to differentiate between a crepe myrtle and a wild catalpa tree.

Plus those dumb treebox waterbags need to be filled regularly. If the city puts them in, they need to inform the residents in the adjoining property to fill them, and it appears that nobody is doing that. The bags should have only been put in treeboxes of requesting residents, but I'm guessing that part of the process wasn't followed through either.

 
At 8/15/2009 10:17 PM, Blogger Mari said...

Feh, I worked 12 hours a week and was in Spanish Club. I'd have to dig up my senior yearbook but I think I was in something else. In college I was involved with the CRs and was in some German group and did work-study. I had limited extracurricular things because I had limited funds.

The treebox things are stupid if there isn't any buy in with the actual residents and businesses they get dumped on. Some renters (not you because you're a green thumb) don't do yards, much less recognize there is a treebox near the group house. Also I'm still a little miffed about the city ripping out the wood ties and plants I had in my treebox to put in a tree that I was told to water. That tree gets watered when I bother to completely water the plants in the yard which is not often.

 
At 8/16/2009 3:31 PM, Anonymous New On Florida said...

To my knowledge, you have to be 16 to work a year-round job here in DC. With the summer youth job program, on the other hand, you can be as young as 14.

Aside from keeping kids off the street and occupied with constructive activities during the summer days, it gives kids who aren't eligible for year round employment, and who may come from homes where parents are unable to fit a weekly allowance into their household budgets, a chance to earn a bit of pocket money the honest way. And the best thing about it, is that most of the work is geared towards helping the community.

 
At 8/17/2009 7:49 AM, Blogger Mari said...

I looked in my yearbook I was on Student Council (how could I forget that? with the great beer scandal!), in Spanish Club and the Drama Club AND worked 12 hours a week during school while taking AP classes.

 
At 8/17/2009 11:35 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

I think the summer jobs program is a good idea conceptually. Yeah, kids could get their own jobs, but it's probably not very easy for your typical 14 to 17 year inner-city kid to find gainful employment for the summer. There are benefits to everyone to make it easy for them.

I have complained a lot about the program in practice, though, because the work products seem to be pretty bad across the board, as you've observed here. The work may be geared towards helping the comminity, but not many people seem to feel very "helped" by it.

I got an ugly paint job on my street firebox, and my neighbors got trees they planted cut down.

Yet every day when I walk the dog I come back with a Safeway bag full of trash from the sidewalk. And there are some sidewalk strips that desperately need mowing, like around the fire hydrant on the corner that's not maintained by the homeowner. There's something that ACTUALLY needs doing, that makes a big difference, but apparently didn't make the cut, while cutting down trees did.

It shouldn't be hard for them to figure this out. There are plenty of things that need doing that require fewer skills than what they're trying, and it should certainly be possible to supervise kids enough that they don't actually create litter, cut down good trees, and paint things that don't need painting.

 
At 8/17/2009 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Melissa McKnight (DDOE), melissa.mcknight@dc.gov, is in charge of the summer youth program if you have suggestions.

Grass

 

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