FORT RUCKER, Ala. (February 7, 2013) -- Being thrust into the world as a young adult is oftentimes a daunting experience but Fort Rucker Child, Youth and School Services has an apprenticeship program that helps provide career-exploration opportunities to teens.

The Hired! Apprenticeship Program provides 15-18-year-old youth with meaningful, professionally managed opportunities in Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation operations, according to Denise Honeycutt, Hired! program manager.

"The program offers valuable work experience and training to better equip each participant with the skills needed for a highly-competitive job market. But, just like in the real world, participants must meet certain criteria to be a part of the program," she said.

Prerequisite training is required prior to the start of a term, which is 12 weeks long.

"Training includes workforce preparation, interview skills, resume building, financial readiness, college preparation, customer service and post-secondary education," she said. Six additional training sessions are required during the terms, but will be counted as work hours.

Other qualifications to participate include being registered in the CYSS program, having a clean background check and maintaining a grade point average of 2.0 or higher.

"They need to bring important documents to the workshop such as birth certificates, Social Security cards and school records," she said.

The next training workshop will be Feb. 26-28 from 4-6 p.m. at the teen center. It is mandatory to attend all three days of training, but only has to be done once. Participants will start working on March 24.

The program is year round, and is open to DOD civilian and contractor children.

"If you are a part of the Fort Rucker Family then your child is eligible for the program," said Honeycutt.

To make the experience as realistic as possible, the program requires mandatory hours, applications and commitment.

"They will fill out applications just like they would for a job. There is an interview process where the children can accept or decline if they are offered a position. They will have to work 15 hours every week whether that is during the week, on the weekends or both," she said.

Participants will receive a $500 stipend or a $1,000 stipend if they work 30-hour weeks during the summer.

The teens are considered a part of the staff where they will work, according to Honeycutt, and Justin Ritchie, 18, who works at the physical fitness facility, said that the staff has helped him sharpen his communication skills in person and over the phone, multitasking skills, how to keep his workspace clean and have helped with his people skills.

"I am learning a lot. I have talked to my boss and maybe I can get an actual job here when my term ends. I am excited for that," he added.

Children are allowed to participate in the program twice in one year and can do it consecutively if they choose, but Honeycutt said that if the participant cannot fully commit to the program then they need to consider waiting and taking part at a different time.

"There is no vacation or sick days, only a Family emergency or a school function is an excuse for not making hours and even then those hours have to be made up before the term is over," she said.

One teen, Angel Gresham, 16, who works at Rucker Lanes, said that the program has allowed her to meet a lot of interesting people and that teens should take advantage of the opportunity to expand their experience.

"I am homeschooled, so I can work during the day, which I am fortunate to take advantage of, but I can't wait to do it again. I want to go to the library next because I think it will look better on my resume to have different types of work listed on there," she said.

According to Honeycutt, it is hard for teens in today's society to find a job without having experience but that this program helps provide that.

"It is like a step in the door on their resume. It also gets them out there and gives them a taste of what it is like to juggle Family, work, a social life and school. It is a great experience for them," she said, adding that the teens take away confidence, self esteem and people skills.

The training and the program are free for all participants.

Some of the options that the teens will have to choose from are the Silver Wings Golf Course, Rucker Lanes, the auto craft center, both post gyms and CYSS itself.

To enroll or for more information, contact parent central services, Bldg. 5700 Rm. 193, by calling 255-9638 or 255-1093.