Summer jobs for youth in Oakland will be coming soon
on April 30, 2013
As the days get longer and the temperature begins to rise, school will end in just a few short months. In the Oakland Unified School District, the last day of school is June 13 and classes will resume August 26, giving students almost two months without classes. Because of the enormous amount of free time students will inherit during their summer vacations, local programs and businesses are looking to hire students.
In order to prepare students at Oakland Technical High School in North Oakland, school officials have began prepping students year-round through the school’s College and Career Center. The center aims to pair students with jobs at local community businesses and even places some students with on-campus jobs. The school uses a board to post openings at local businesses such as insurance companies and tutoring services on-campus. The program mainly draws interest from high school juniors and seniors.
“It is important for students to have a job, it keeps them out of trouble and gives them responsibilities,” said Paulette Drawsand, who works in the College and Career Office. “It makes them independent and you will be a better student once you have responsibilities.”
Drawsand says 50 to 75 students have already found employment on-campus as working as tutors or in the cafeteria, and so far 15 to 20 students have found employment outside of the school.
Nationally, employment rates for young people tend to rise over the summer months. Last summer, an August 2012 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a federal agency that measures labor activity, working conditions and changes in the economy, found that from April to July 2012, the number of employed people between the ages of 16 and 24 rose from 2.1 million to 19.5 million.
With the national economy stabilizing, some labor experts are predicting that jobs for teenagers may be easier to come by compared to previous years. “There will definitely be more opportunities for teenagers seeking employment this summer,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement firm, in an April statement. “Of course, it is still a competitive environment. So, teens should not expect employers to come knocking on their door. The search will require maximum effort, starting now, in order to have a position lined up before the school year ends.”
In Oakland, administrators in the East Bay Regional Park system are looking to hire recreational leaders and lifeguards over the age of 16. At Children’s Fairyland, the theme park is looking to hire customer service representatives, craft assistants and ride attendants. The Oakland-based Youth Employment Partnership (YEP), a career center for teenagers, is still accepting applications for their summer employment program, which pairs teens with a local business to work for the summer. YEP is also still accepting applications for their “Team Oakland” clean up group, through which teens clean up city streets for $8 an hour.
“We really strive for our people to get employed,” said YEP counselor Rodney Freeman. According to Freeman, the agency has about 300 applications for their summer youth employment program but they are seeking up to 500 applications.
Not all Oakland summer positions are paid. At the local independent music company Blackball Universe, the company is seeking unpaid interns who wish to learn about music production, art gallery curating, social media marketing and visual media production. “I grew up in Oakland, I was one of these youth in the ’80s and there were not a lot of opportunities for hiring kids and they got into a lot of trouble,” said Xaiver Dphrepaulezz, creative director at Blackball Universe. “Older people have a responsibility to reach back and uplift the youth. We have to spread the love.”
The Oakland-based media training program Youth Radio plans to offer an all-expenses-paid fellowship for young people ages 18 to 25. The fellowship is a 6-month training program that aims to teach technical skills and requires a 3-month summer internship placement at a local business. The program also has a partnership with Berkeley Community College and completion of the fellowship gives students a certificate in multimedia arts.
For those who are not eligible for the program, Youth Radio will have summer programs open to high school students interested in media. Although those gigs are unpaid, students will learn industry standard software needed for work in digital media.
“I think people understand summer is a critical time,” said Jabari Gray, program manager of the Youth Radio Fellowship. Gray believes students will stay out of trouble when they have something to do during their free time. “There are just too many hours in the day meaning that if somebody is going to take the summer off from classes, the potential for them to become involved in an activities that are not constructive increases,” he said.
According to Gray, when a student works they tend to develop a strong sense of self-worth and self-confidence. “They [youth] can actually see an impact. They say ‘Hey I can be a leader, there are other people looking up to me and asking my opinion,’” said Gray.
But some students believe finding a job during summer vacation is hard. “There are programs in Oakland that help kids, but it’s usually focused towards kids who are juvenile delinquents or in foster care. But there’s nothing really there for kids in between or who have never been in those types of situations, and so it’s harder for people to get jobs,” said high school student Lashayla Marr, who was waiting at a bus stop in downtown Oakland with her friend Meleah Ruffin.
“It was a lot easier for me to get a job,” agreed Ruffin, who is adopted. Last summer Ruffin was able to find employment through the YEP, which has some programs that are open to all teens, and other that are specifically for young people who are either adopted or on probation.
Through YEP, Ruffin said she learned a variety of work skills. “We have to do a development training class every Friday, and it teaches us something different like work ethic, integrity in the workplace, how to make a resume,” said Ruffin. “That was definitely helpful.”
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