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Summer Jobs Program brings work experience to high school students

Summer Jobs Program brings work experience to high school students
Summer intern Billy Zeilah (right) works with Laurel city employee Yasir Syed in the information technology office at the Laurel Municipal Center. (Submitted photo)

Now in its eighth year, the Mayor's Summer Jobs Program offers 12 students paying summer positions with the city government to provide first-hand experience in the workplace

During the eight-week program, high school students, ages 14 to 16, can learn the ins and outs of municipal government by joining city employees in various positions. Jobs will be open in the Office of the Mayor, the City Council, City Administrator's Office, Laurel Police Department, Office of the Fire Marshal and Permit Services, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Information Technology, Communications and Budget and Personal Services.

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Department of Budget and Personnel Services Deputy Director Michael Greene said the positions pay an hourly rate of $8.75, with students working no more than 20 hours a week.

"They earn minimum wage, which has been going up recently," Greene said. "If they work, on average, 20 hours a week for eight weeks, they could earn $1,400 this summer. That's a lot of money to them."

But the experience is the most crucial aspect of this opportunity, Greene said. Anticipating that it will be a first job for many students, the program provides participants not only with learning experiences about the structure and services of the Laurel city government but also expectations in the workplace.

Greene said students will also learn public speaking throughout the program, preparing two speeches during their workdays. After reviewing applications, asking each student for their first and second choices, Greene said everyone is divided into groups and interviewed for placements.

"Each department has at least one position [and] some have two," Green said. "There are usually one or two departments where nobody signs up, so we have to assign. Everyone who is qualified gets an interview. If nothing else, they have the experience of a job interview."

While some jobs allow students to venture into the community, such as public works or economic development crews, Greene said most students are performing administrative work.

"[Students are] learning what their responsibilities would be," he said. "A lot of kids like to have their cellphones on them all the time and be in touch with their friends. That doesn't go well with work. They need to learn to be on time and to do what their supervisor is instructing them to do. It's a different kind of responsibility than what they get in school."

Since the program's start eight years ago, Greene said the city has hired two students, one with the police auxiliary and another as a full-time employee.

Applications and requirements are available on the city's website at cityoflaurel.org/content/mayors-summer-jobs-program. The program will run from June 27 through Aug. 19.

Applications are due by Friday, May 6 at 5 p.m.

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