FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Finding a first job can be a daunting task for today's teenagers as even traditional "teen jobs" are harder to find in this economy. Thanks to Child, Youth and School Services' HIRED! program, teens with little or no experience have the opportunity to learn job skills and gain experience through apprenticeships.

HIRED! is an apprenticeship program, in which children of service members or DoD civilians experience different career fields by completing a 12-week apprenticeship with a Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation activity, as well as other participating agencies on post.

The program is open to students 13 to 18 years old.

Before placement with FMWR or any other post agency mentor, the teens are required to complete three training sessions. During the 12-week experience, participants have to commit to a 15-hour-week work schedule during the school year, or to 15 to 30 hours a week during the summer in addition to attending weekly workforce preparation trainings. Upon completing the those requirements, the teens are awarded a $500 stipend for 180 hours of work and a $1,000 stipend for 360 hours. Qualified teens can work two terms per calendar year for a maximum of six terms.

Katie Elkins, nutrition apprentice, recently started her first term with the HIRED! program and works Mondays and Fridays for a total of 15 hours a week. Elkins works with Madge McNaboe, a nutritionist with CYSS. Elkins learns about proper nutrition and assists in placing food orders for child care activities on post.

McNaboe, now in her third term as a mentor, said the program is beneficial to both the mentors and the teens.

"Having teens in the organization brings fresh ideas and enthusiasm," she said. "Even if the teens don't choose to join the particular workforce they apprentice in, they leave with valuable work experience."

Simona Tautkus, workforce readiness preparation specialist, said she wants teens who are interested in being a part of the program to know what awaits them.

"Be prepared to take responsibility ... and be ready to give up some of your free time and learn new skills," Tautkus said.

Tautkus also stressed that mentors should be patient because the program is the first work experience for most of the teens.

Apprenticeships are available in a variety of career fields -- from dentist offices to the pools around post. Some of the more popular work sites and most requested sites to apprentice at are fitness centers, child care facilities, and Palmetto Falls Water Park and the Fort Jackson Golf Club during the summer.

The next available apprenticeship program is scheduled Aug. 26 through Nov. 18. Application must be completed by Aug. 17.

For more information, call Tautkus at 751-1136.