WorkWell kicked off its second summer this week! WorkWell offers summer employment to Nashville youth, ages 14-16. WorkWell operates as a partnership with Opportunity NOW (Nashville’s youth employment initiative).
For most of WorkWell youth employees, this is their first job experience. For a few, it's their second, and we're thrilled to have them back! During this program, they’ll receive training in essential soft skills such as verbal and non-verbal communication, punctuality, professionalism, initiative, and problem-solving. Youth will also practice writing resumes and confidently taking on job interview questions. This is all in addition to them earning some of their very first paychecks and hopefully learning how to responsibly handle what they receive.
WorkWell commenced this last Tuesday with a meet-and greet between the youth employees, their parents, and program staff. Parents were invited to the first day of training and received an orientation on the program. After hearing about the kind of guidance and training their youth would receive through WorkWell, one parent said, “I can tell this organization cares about the community. I really like how you all want to invest in my son beyond just giving him a job.”
This year, WorkWell employees will be working in one of four job areas: a Basketball Training Clinic, Hopewell Community Garden, Creative Media and Journalism, or Camp Skillz Junior Counseling! During this first week of the summer, WorkWell staff led the youth employees through several sessions on safety awareness, professional communication, conflict resolution, and group planning. Beginning next week each job area will begin implementing the skills they’ve been trained in.
Through the Opportunity NOW initiative, teenagers are not the only ones getting a job experience; they work closely with 20-24 year old “near-peers tutors” who serve as their program leaders. Our near-peers receive training in youth psychology, interpersonal awareness and management skills. Near-peers are then guided by working professionals in their field who offer real-time insight and help them through issues that arise. This three-part relationship between employees in their teens, program leads in their early 20’s, and older experts in their fields promotes intergenerational relationships and capitalizes on both energy and expertise!
This week’s focus has been punctuality, proper dress, and professional communication in the workplace. Our teams have learned lessons about communicating respectfully with their peers and managers and how to actively listen to managers in the workplace. Many of the employees received positive write ups to show to their parents about how they have applied these new skills on the job.
Near-peer Brianne Botzum, who works with the Camp Skillz junior counselors, said, "Our employees have done a great job. They're taking their lessons in active listening and job-site safety seriously, and applying them as they prepare for camp next week!"
We anticipate a summer of hard work and valuable lessons learned. We're very thankful for the partnership offered by Opportunity NOW. Look for updates throughout our summer!