With three weeks until the school year ends, 16-year-old Julian Shofar is not worried that he hasn’t secured a summer job.
The Montgomery Blair High School student, who plans to work this summer to earn extra cash, says the city of Takoma Park is an ideal place for teenagers to find seasonal and part-time employment.
“I think job opportunities depend on the community you live in,” Shofar said. “Takoma Park is a very nice place that does a lot of things to make getting jobs easier for teens, whereas in other communities more are taken up.”
That could be in part because of initiatives such as the Takoma Park Recreation Department’s new Youth Summer Employment program, which will match teenagers and young adults age 16-21 with local employers.
Participants will work 20-25 hours per week July 7-Aug. 15. Recreation Director Gregory Clark said the department created the program in response to a competitive job market that doesn’t favor the young and inexperienced.
More than 30 prospective applicants attended a May 8 interest workshop, Clark said. Recreation department staff and participating employers will interview candidates and the program will match those selected to job sites.
The nine partnering employers include Washington Adventist University, Old Takoma Business Association and Ace Hardware.
“We want to make sure the process is fit to match kids’ specific skills to something they are interested in and like to do,” Clark said.
He said the program aims to help prepare participants for future careers.
“We really want to provide our young people with the opportunity to have meaningful employment,” Clark said. “We don’t just want them to have jobs. We want them to be able to build skills.”
Because the recreation department will pay participants’ salaries – $7.25 per hour – spots in the program are limited to fewer than 10, Clark said.
Selected candidates must attend a three-day orientation next month, where seminars will offer coaching on time management, communication, workplace etiquette and other topics.
“Some of these young people have never had a job before, so it is really to introduce them to the world of working,” Clark said.
The Crossroad Farmer’s Market, a program participant, will involve its employee in community outreach projects.
Michelle Dudley, farmer’s market coordinator, said the program will teach responsibility but also foster a sense of contribution.
“We want to invite someone who is a little younger and who can learn from our staff,” Dudley said. “The goal is that this youth will become invested in community-based efforts, and become really involved in Takoma Park.”