ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- An Aberdeen High School junior is gaining customer service skills in the Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic's referral management office.

Janaye Oliver, 16, is one of 21 teens participating in the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's HIRED! Program introduced to the Aberdeen Proving Ground community last fall. The program provides paid apprenticeships for 15- to 18-year-olds.

Oliver said that she wanted to participate in the program this summer so that she would have experience working at a hospital.

"I needed a job this summer. In the future I want to work in the medical field, as either a trauma surgeon or a physiatrist [a physician specializing in physical medicine]," Oliver said. "This apprenticeship is giving me a chance to improve my customer service skills and giving me experience communicating with doctors. Through this job I have learned medical terms and found out what it is like to work in an office."

Oliver processes referrals that come into the referral management office and assists Deborah Dodsworth, KUSAHC's patient advocate, and Oliver's on-site mentor.

"Due to Janaye's maturity, I assigned her to work with Eleanor Ware in the referral management office," Dodsworth said.

Jay McKinney, a youth workforce preparation specialist with APG's Child Youth and School Services office, said that the program offers more than just a job. It offers valuable experience for teens.

"Many teens are unsure of what career they want to pursue," McKinney said. "This program gives them a chance to explore these options."

Oliver said that the HIRED! Program affirmed that she wanted to work in the medical field.

"This experience for me affirmed that I do not want to work in an office setting as my future career," Oliver said. "I'd rather work in a clinical setting. However, from this experience I have greater appreciation for those that work in referral management every day. Maintaining records is important in the medical field."

Oliver said that she would recommend the program to other teens.

"You get good exposure working in a different setting and have a chance to make connections with professionals," Oliver said. "You learn things at a job that you do not learn in school. It is a good way to see how adults really work in the real world. From this experience I have gained more appreciation for the people who do this kind of work every day."

Oliver said that she also appreciates the required HIRED! training.

"I learned many useful things that will help me in the future, like how to dress for success and how to write a resume," Oliver said.

Lamesa Wade, a referral management technician, said that she appreciates Oliver's assistance.

"She is a great help," Wade said. "We have a small staff so her help is really appreciated. I think this program is beneficial for teens trying to come up in the world."

The HIRED! program offers a variety of job placements in Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities for teens of military and government civilians assigned to APG. To secure apprenticeships, candidates must achieve and maintain a 2.0 grade point average or higher before completing a pre-assessment and interviews with facility managers. Depending on the skills and interest teens show in these interviews, they are placed under the direct supervision of a designated on-site mentor who is responsible for tutoring their individual apprentices.

Some of the career options offered in the HIRED! program include: education, child and/or youth development, marketing or graphic design, library and information science, food and beverage management, pet care education, information technology, sports studies and sports management. Students may participate in the program twice a year and can participate in the program every year while they are between the ages of 15 and 18.

During the summer, apprentices are allowed to serve two terms at one time, meaning they would participate 30 hours during a seven-day period. There is also potential for the stipend to increase depending on the number of times the student enrolls in the program. Additional requirements for the students include participating in other career preparation enrichment activities such as workshops and classes where students learn how to fill out financial aid forms and scholarship applications. Students will also be expected to keep a journal of their experience.

"Teens will receive experience that will make them competitive in future job opportunities and college applications." McKinney said. "Students will develop work and life skills, like customer service, and resume writing, that will be applicable to any job they might pursue in the future."

For information, contact McKinney at (401) 278-3250. The program is now taking application from teens for the next semester, which starts Sept. 14.