Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Inquire within: Workshop will prepare teens for summer employment

Employees are needed to help with a new summer theater camp. Courtesy photo

There’s frost on the ground and a chill in the air, but that doesn’t mean it’s too soon to start thinking about summer.

In fact, Davis teens interested in landing a summer job best start thinking ahead, and the city of Davis is here to help.

The city hires more than 100 new employees ages 14 and up for summer recreation jobs every year. Those jobs range from lifeguards, swim instructors and snack bar attendants at city pools to working in the city’s dance and gymnastics programs, a new theater camp and popular Camp Putah. The common thread: Nearly all involve working with children.

As it has in previous years, the city’s Community Services Department will host a jobs skills workshop later this month to help teens maximize their odds of landing one of those jobs.

But this year, the workshop will have a broader focus than in past years: this year it’s about helping teens land any job — not just one with the city.

“It’s less about getting a job with us — though we do hire a lot of people, and more about making this a service for young people,” said Community Services Coordinator Christine Foster. “We want to prepare you for any job.”

That means providing tips on everything from how to fill out an application and interview to how behave as an employee.

“We focus on the issues we run into,” said Foster, who hires and oversees staff for teen, outdoor and youth sports programs. “How to present yourself: Are you chewing gum? Are your pants sagging? Is your phone going off?”

City staff will provide a presentation on getting a job, goal-setting and keeping a job, as well as skits and scenarios focused on interviews and appropriate employee behavior.

Following the presentations, staff will conduct mock interviews with any interested teens.

It all takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 30, beginning at 4 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Theater, 203 E. 14th St.

Teens are urged to arrive at least 15 minutes early in order to sign up for a mock interview, which city staff say is the most important part of the workshop.

Last year Community Services staff conducted more than 100 mock interviews during the workshop and they expect to do as many, if not more, this year. Those who go through the interviews receive a checklist showing what they did well and what they should work on, ranging from maintaining eye contact to avoiding slang and making sure the cell phone is turned off.

Program coordinator Sandra Montgomery, who hires staff for all of the city’s aquatics programs, urges teens not to be intimidated by the interviews.

“It’s a learning experience and great way to get feedback,” she said.

And the presentations and skits provided beforehand will set the stage for great mock interviews.

“If they’re paying attention during the presentation, they’ll nail the mock interview,” Foster said.

“Last year some of them got really nervous about doing a mock interview,” she added. “But if you do anything that day, do the mock interview. You get a sneak peek into the questions and honest feedback.”

Program coordinator Ajay Raj, who will be hiring for a new theater camp, adds that a bad mock interview is purely a learning experience.

“We don’t hold it against you,” he said.

Unlike previous years, city staff will not be accepting job applications the day of the workshop; rather, available jobs will be posted online the following day.

But staff will be providing tips on filling out those applications.

“We’ll give pointers on how to make your application stand out, even if you have no job experience,” Foster said.

For example, teens will be urged to focus on leadership positions they’ve held at school or on a sports team, or community service projects they’ve completed, if they’ve never held a job before.

When job positions are posted online following the workshop, teens should be prepared to move quickly: the city will accept only the first 50 applications for many positions.

“I expect some of those to close within a week,” Montgomery said.

But anyone interested in lifeguard or swim instructor positions needs to act now: Required Red Cross certification classes are already filling up and must be completed prior to employment.

“When they apply, they need to show proof (that they are taking or are registered for the certification class),” Montgomery said.

Register for certification classes at http://community-services.cityofdavis.org/aquatics-program/safety-classes.

The summer aquatics program remains one of the bigger employment opportunities for teens with different requirements for each job.

Lifeguards, for example, must be at least 15 years old and possess certification in lifeguard training and First Aid/CPR. They work between 30 and 40 hours a week and earn from $8.82 to $10.31 per hour.

Swim instructors must be at least 16 years old, have experience working with children, and a competitive swimming background is preferred. Swim instructors work between 15 and 25 hours per week and earn $8.82 to $11.04 per hour.

Both lifeguards and swim instructors have mandatory in-service training days in May and June.

Swim instructor aides, meanwhile, must be 14 years old by June 1, be familiar with basic swim strokes and experience working with children is preferred. They work about 10 hours per week and earn between $8 and $9.35 per hour.

Teens who love the idea of working at a city pool, but prefer to stay out the water, should consider positions as pool cashiers or snack bar attendants. Applicants must be 15 years old by June 1 and have basic knowledge of math, record-keeping, customer service techniques and basic computer skills. Prior experience and food safety training is desired for snack bar attendants. Both jobs also have mandatory in-service training days in May and June.

Some of the new jobs that will be available this year include leaders for birthday parties held at the city gym. Applicants must be 16 years old and able to handle a group of as many as 25 children for gymnastics- and dance-themed birthday parties. Leaders will earn between $8.40 and $10.31 per hour and work Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Like many of the city’s recreation jobs, birthday party leaders will be needed year-round, so that summer job can turn into something long-term for dedicated employees. That’s also the case for dance and gymnastics instructors as well as gymnastics camp leaders.

The city’s popular summer camps will be in need of many leaders, as usual. Rainbow Summer, Summer Quest, Arts and Crafts Camp, Kids in the Kitchen and Voyagers all need leaders who are at least 15 years old, full of positive energy and enthusiasm and good with children. The positions pay between $8 and $10.31 per hour. Senior leaders must be 17 years old.

Jamie Elliott, program coordinator of the city’s alternative recreation program, always needs more employees in the summer. These hires assist children with disabilities who are participating in the city’s many recreation programs.

“They don’t have to have experience working with special needs kids,” Elliott said, “but they have to love working with kids.”

Because the job entails accompanying a child to various city camps and programs, the job requires some degree of independence and flexibility, and Elliott generally hires older teens and college students.

Interviews for all of the city jobs will get underway by March with hiring for some positions — like aquatics jobs — completed in time for the spring swim programs.

To read full descriptions of all of the jobs and begin the application process, log on to the city website http://administrative-services.cityofdavis.org/part-time-employment-opportunities on Thursday, Jan. 31.

For additional information on the job skills workshop, contact the Community Services Department at 530-757-5626.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy.

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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