NEW ORLEANS - The JOB1 Summer Work Experience Program is a partnership between JOB1 and other organizations that allow young adults ages 14-24 to do career exploration. The seven-week summer program, shorter than the traditional Work Experience program that runs year-round, exposes participants to both soft and hard skills needed in the workplace with on-the-job experience.
In response to COVID-19, JOB1 wanted to place young people at essential businesses to be of assistance during the crisis. Councilwoman Nguyen reached out to Giving Hope Food Pantry in New Orleans East, and now, 11-12 young adult work experience participants are assisting at the pantry serving 250-300 families per day.
Councilwoman Nguyen has also brought one of the JOB1 interns on her team as well. Zion Lee is a graduate of Holy Cross High School in New Orleans, and following graduation, he participated in a fellowship through Global Citizen Year. During Zion's apprenticeship in Ecuador, he learned Spanish and the Indigenous language of Kichwa while working with local communities. After returning from his year abroad, Zion applied for the JOB1 YouthWorks Program.
"I believe this program has provided an opportunity for me to have meaningful work during this unfortunate time, and I am very thankful that I can assist others. With this work experience, giving back to the community, and the skills I'm learning through my internship with the New Orleans City Council, I know that no matter what my future career may be, JOB1 is allowing me to excel with skills needed in all jobs," said Zion.
During his internship, Zion will be working on creating a virtual summer camp that provides new skills to the youth in District E, speaking to youth about the importance of wearing masks and staying safe from COVID-19, and assisting at various food distribution sites throughout the district.
For many youth participating in the program, this is their first work experience."These work experiences are the catalysts that start our youth on a career pathway designed to ensure gainful employment that builds on soft skills and career training and development," said Sunae Villavaso, Deputy Director of the Office of Workforce Development. "As we continue to implement these types of programs, we are also cognizant of the fact that COVID-19 has forced companies to redefine its workforce, and it has also reignited the conversation around who we identify as essential workers and what the corresponding salaries of those workers should be."
Youth are not just placed with Giving Hope and the City Council. There are also others working at local businesses such as Family Resources of New Orleans, Total Community Action, Green Man Dan, WAGs Food & Culture, and Commercial Body Shop. These employer partners provide mentoring and supervisory roles that will benefit students because it increases their ability to be hired.
Work experience participants are provided with PPE daily and employ social distancing practices. JOB1's partnership with Lyft allows participating youth to receive transportation to and from their job site.
Those interested in participating in the program as participants or employer partners can reach out to JOB1 via phone at (504) 658-4500 or at JOB1@nola.gov.