SCHINNEN, the Netherlands (July 17, 2008) Aca,!" The Army's Summer Hire Program is more than just a job for 41 students working at U.S. Army Garrison Schinnen this summer.

The program provides a glimpse into their future with a clear roadmap that gets them there ahead of their peers, thanks to a professional development program designed specifically for teen employees.

These days, teens already access loads of career resources via the internet and school guidance offices, but Schinnen's program takes them further into the work world through professional development. Summer hires in past programs simply performed routine clerical, maintenance or labor tasks, assigned by their respective supervisors. By the end of summer, they had a few extra bucks and a bullet for their resumes but very little knowledge about actual careers or how to set professional goals.

Schinnen's program assigns students to traditional summer hire jobs but adds an element of professional development with mandatory career classes once a week. Yes, mandatory classes. Sound boring' Schinnen's summer hires thought so, until they attended the first class. They came away with a whole new perspective.

"This is a really wonderful experience," beamed Tizhaun Carroll, a 15-year-old aspiring football star at AFNORTH International School in Brunssum, Netherlands. That's not a comment you'd expect from a guy like Carroll, who admits he spent the last several summers sleeping late, working out and playing video games.

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing in this class," Carroll said. He had just attended a financial management seminar, the first of four mandatory classes he would take throughout the summer.

"This guy starts talking about what we can do with the money we're earning this summer. He told us we'd be blowing over 10 percent just on lunch if we eat out every day," Carroll exclaimed. "I'm one of those people who doesn't like to bring my lunch. Too much trouble," Carroll confessed, "but when that guy did the numbers ... he convinced me!"

That's the kind of impact Kathy Foley, Schinnen's Workforce Development Specialist, hopes the program generates among summer hires. "It's all part of professional development," she explained, as she describes classes in leadership, career exploration, job search and team building.

"Professional development should be age appropriate and meaningful," she said.

Foley, who spearheaded Schinnen's Summer Hire Program for the last three years, personally interviewed every applicant and developed mandatory classes according to needs identified during those interviews. The result is a "comprehensive and educational professional development program, specifically designed for age groups and life cycles," she said.

It works. Schinnen's summer hires give the program a big thumbs up. Besides earning a pay check, they say the classes are one of the best perks the program offers. Colleen Haggerty, 16, said, "Now that we're earning good, solid money, these classes teach us how to manage it responsibility and plan for our future. That's something you won't get with most summer jobs."

Schinnen's program placed eight students at Joint Forces Command in Brunssum, Netherlands (a nearby NATO facility), six at Rheindahlen Military Complex in Monchengladbach, Germany (a British installation which houses the NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corp) and 23 students at USAG Schinnen. Bringing the Summer Hires together weekly for classes also helps build camaraderie and strengthen their social networks, which is a big plus for those students dispersed at the various installations.

Foley noted that the benefits Summer Hires receive go well beyond the paycheck. Whether it's updating clerical files in an administrative office or pitching packages at the post office, the summer hires experience the work world in a way many of their peers won't know until much later in life.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16