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Military teens gain job experience on vacation

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:07PM September 5th, 2013
Military teens gain job experience on vacation

Somer Breeze-Hanson/Northwest Guardian

Dwon Jackson, left, a workforce preparation specialist with the JBLM Hired! Apprenticeship Program, assists Anthony Baca with his time sheet at an ACS Financial Warriors class Aug. 29.

Dwon Jackson empowers Joint Base Lewis-McChord youths to empower themselves.

The workforce preparation specialist for the HIRED! Apprenticeship Program educates and equips teens, 15 to 18, to join the workforce and look to their future after high school.

Thirty-six JBLM teens spent their summer vacation participating in a 12-week session where they gained job experience at JBLM sites and received training in managing finances, resume writing and interview skills.

The students wrapped up the latest session this week in time for back to school.

“A student can go out and attempt to get a job, but a lot of places turn them away because they don’t have any experience,” Jackson said. “Through the Hired! program they are gaining 180 hours of on the job work experience plus 10 to 16 trainings.”

The deadline is Sept. 13 to enroll in the next Hired! term that begins Sept. 16. The program is only available to dependents of active duty Army, Air Force or DOD civilians associated with JBLM. Students must also be in high school with a 2.0 grade point average or higher and must be registered with Child, Youth and School Services.

Jackson launched the installationwide program at JBLM in 2009. Since then an average of 30 students have participated each term during the 48 weeks it is offered. Jackson has seen several students leave the program to find jobs and make wise financial decisions after high school.

Alexis Madison just started her sophomore year at Timberline High School and has aspirations to be a performer on Broadway, a swim instructor, or maybe a career that involves working with children.

For her first term with the Hired! program the 15 year old spent the summer working at Cascade School Age Services.

“I baby-sat before but had never been in an environment with so many different levels of intellect,” she said. “I’m more sensitive to people around me.”

Hired! students can participate in two terms per fiscal year. The students receive a stipend of $500 after their first two terms, $625 for the next two and $750 for the last two. But Jackson stresses to his students that money isn’t as valuable as the information they’re learning.

What the students do with their stipends can also be a reflection of the lessons learned in the program. One student used her earnings to save for college and buy her first car. Another student saved it all and by the end of his final term had put away nearly $8,000. And one student invested $250 in the stock market and saw it grow to $1,000.

Hired! partnered with Army Community Service a couple of years ago, where Mary Cron, an ACS financial program manager teaches the students everything there is to know about money like income tax, credit and financial statements. For the final “Financial Warriors” class Aug. 29, Cron taught the students the importance of keeping a bank ledger. Trainings are offered on Lewis Main and McChord Field.

The program’s placement sites include business operations, CYSS, community recreation and other Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities. Sherie Daley uses Hired! to learn a little bit about everything. The 16-year-old junior at Lakes High School just completed her third term at Wilson Sports and Fitness Center. She has also worked at the North Fort Youth Center and the Grandstaff Memorial Library. Daley learned customer service skills and facility maintenance. She hopes to do a fourth term next summer.

The teens’ preferences for placement include the bowling alleys and the AFC Skate Arena on Lewis Main. When the students learned The Pet Brigade hired nearly 50 percent of the apprentices who were assigned there, the doggy day care became the place to be.

Jackson sees his students grow and thrive professionally and personally each term.

Olivia Blunt is a 15-year-old sophomore at Life Christian Academy who hardly spoke when she first started the program.

“I had to make her speak to me,” Jackson said. “Now she’s a chatterbox.”

Blunt just finished her second term working both at Leisure Travel Services as well as The Pet Brigade.

“Since I was little I couldn’t wait to get a job,” Blunt said. “I think it helped me get a lot of experience so I know how to carry myself. I’ve really come out of my shell.”

For more information about Hired! and to register call 253-967-4694. The Hired! office is located in Building 6397 on Garcia Boulevard.