ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- A recent Havre de Grace High School graduate is learning customer service skills by working at Army Lodging's Swan Creek Inn.

Colin Heffinger, 18, is one of several teens participating in the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's HIRED! program introduced to the APG community last year. The HIRED! program
provides paid apprenticeships for 15-to 18-year-olds.

"After graduating high school I wanted to get work experience," Heffinger said. "This is my first job, my first time working with customers."

Heffinger works at the front desk, answering the phone, taking reservations, and filing paper work.

Heffinger added that working at Swan Creek Inn will improve his resume and job applications.

"I am in the process of looking for a job, possibly at another hotel, so that I will have a job when the apprenticeship ends," he said.

Heffinger added that several Swan Creek Inn employees have given him advice, on resume writing, and interview techniques to help him have a successful job search. He also took an exam, which tested his knowledge of his duties during his apprenticeship.

"Colin is getting his feet wet and is doing well," said Richard Nokes, Swan Creek Inn's lead desk clerk, and Heffinger's onsite mentor. "He is a fast learner."

Nokes added that Heffinger is the fourth apprentice that has worked at Swan Creek Inn through the HIRED! program.

Nokes said that he enjoys working with the HIRED! program apprentices.

"I think that the HIRED! program provides a good experience for teens." Nokes said. "It gives them a chance to see what the workforce is all about, and learn things that are not taught in school. Skills learned here can be applied to other jobs. Experience is what counts."

The HIRED! program offers a variety of job placements in FMWR 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 the 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.

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."

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." To learn more information about the HIRED! program, contact McKinney, at 410-278-3250.