WENY News - Special Report: Learn & Earn

Special Report: Learn & Earn

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- "Everyone has a bunch of stuff they're doing over the summer," says Jaydan Jackson, a sophomore at Greater Southern Tier STEM Academy. 

For Jaydan, getting a summer  job seemed like the perfect fit. But for him and many students, getting an interview--sometimes without even a resume--can be a challenge. 

"At the beginning of this program, quite a few of them have very low confidence," says Laura Kinney,  Youth Program Coordinator for the Youth Bureau. "[They] wouldn't even be able to go up to their boss and ask a simple question.

That's where Chung County's Summer Youth Employment Program comes in.

The program, geared towards some of our area's undeserved communities, teaches students not only how to land a job, but also how to keep one over the course of just six weeks. 
    
Eligibility is income based, helping students gain not only valuable career skills, but also a paycheck. 

"I realized I could expand my knowledge more, rather than just walking into an employer and asking for an application," says Jaydan.

"We try to gear it towards what they're looking to do after high school," says Kinney. "Anywhere from food service to working in the school district. We [also] have them working in the community centers doing childcare work [or] in our summer program. Those kids are able to be rec leaders in training."

Other examples where students may find they have an interest: Able 2 Rehabilitation Center, Eldridge Park, the Steele Memorial Library or Economic Opportunity Program.
    
For Jaydan, his interests in working with children paired him with Southside Community Center.  

"I know my interest is helping people," says Jaydan. "Seeing [the kids] energized and caring for one another--it was really impactful on me."

The program also works hand-in-hand with the Elmira City School District's Learn and Earn Program, which offers students the opportunity to become self-sufficient and responsible.
    
The after-school training is a perfect lead-in to taking on that first job once school is out.    And with mandatory workshops continuing throughout the summer, lessons learned quickly become life-skills.

"Basic things like how to fill out a time card, how to communicate with your boss, how to handle if you're running late," says Kinney.

"One example--maybe we're learning how to create a resume, which was really helpful because I did just care one the other day," says Jaydan.

Above all, the goal of the program is to get students thinking about their future. For many of them, entering the workforce after high school is something they've rarely even thought about; going to college may even seem out of reach. That's why it's sometimes just a matter of seeing what continuing their education can do.
    
Kinney says for some students, stepping foot onto a college campus, for example, can be a game changer.

"There was a group of kids behind me and they were like, 'wow I've never this before,' and they live right down the street from Elmira College. So that's always nice to be able to expand on their knowledge of things right around the corner from them.

Trips like those college vista are just another building block, setting a foundation and ideally setting students up for success. 

"They're definitely more employable," says Kinney. "A lot of our local businesses will actually hire the youth one as their permanent staff afterward. So that's a success in our books, when they actually see what we've seen in the youth throughout the summer." 
 

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