By Cheryl Rodewig, The BayonetJuly 22, 2010
FORT BENNING, Ga. - If you're a Fort Benning teen looking to get a head start in the career field, Hired! has the answers. The Child, Youth & School Services program, launched on Fort Benning this summer, welcomes all military teens, ages 15 to 18, to gain valuable work experience, receive professional training and earn a little money.
Students submit an application they can pick up at CYSS headquarters in Building 2783, CYSS Parent Central or the Middle School and Teen Building on McIver Street. After acceptance into the program, they take six work force preparation classes. Topics include how to dress for the job, stress management and work ethics.
Classes are 60 to 90 minutes long, held at 1 p.m. every other Saturday at the Middle School and Teen Building, said Kimberly Covington-Collier, Hired! program coordinator. Makeup classes are available, if needed.
"The classes were exciting because they let you participate in what you're doing. I'm kind of a hands on learner," said 18-year-old Deonte Campbell. "I've learned so much from the Hired! program. It basically gives you the inside scoop on what the job wants."
Getting down to work
To get the job, teens interview for a position at one of many on-post facilities, such as the Mall Bowling Center, the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Print Shop and CYSS Parent Central.
They agree to work 15 hours a week for 12 weeks, coordinating their weekly schedule with their new supervisor, Covington-Collier said.
"If you're in high school and looking for a job, this is a great way to start," said 16-year-old Matthew Drummonds, who works at Java CafAfA and was part of the first group of teens that went through the program on post.
"This is my first job," he said. "Hired! helped me. We did a practice interview before I went to do my real interview, so when I went to interview, I felt comfortable. I learned more responsibility ... ethics ... customer service ... just how to conduct yourself in a work place. I think it will help me get another job when I go to college. It's going to stay with me."
Reaping the benefits
Teens who successfully complete the program graduate during an awards ceremony and receive a $500 stipend.
More importantly, they graduate with "a little taste of what life would be like after they leave mom and dad," Covington-Collier said.
"It's important for them to start thinking about that now - plan ahead," she said. "This helps define what they might want to do in life."
That was true for 15-year-old Danielle Williams.
After a short time on the job at School Age Services, she knew she wanted to be a kindergarten teacher.
Now she's planning to major in early childhood education, she said.
Campbell said he learned valuable skills, like resume writing, customer service, accounting and communication, from participating in Hired!
"It taught me that when you go to apply for a job, you need more than just the application to get the job," he said. "I feel that will help me out in the long run. I feel the experience I'm learning, I could take to the workplace environment. That's a golden opportunity we have and I would love for other teens to also have the opportunity."
Campbell said he loves his job as a functional technology assistant for CYSS.
"It's given me something to do with my summer," he said. "Most teens get out and get in trouble. With me, I feel like I have a purpose. I'm helping others, even though it could be just a small computer problem."
Sorting out the details
There will be four groups of students every year. Students can participate only twice during each fiscal year for no more than three consecutive years.
Covington-Collier said she maintains close contact with the students and supervisors throughout the term, making sure everything is running smoothly and visiting them on site. She's always open to feedback, she said, to continue to improve the program.
Most teens start Hired! without any previous job experience, but with commitment, they can succeed in the program, she said.
"Go in. Be yourself," Covington-Collier said. "If you feel you're mature enough and competent enough to do it, go for it. Just come in determined to do your best, and you'll get the best."
To sign up for the upcoming fall term, call Covington-Collier at 706-545-6811 by July 31.
To find out more, attend the informational briefing at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Middle School and Teen Building.