88Nine Radio Milwaukee

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Safe Streets Healthy Kids 2012: Earn and Learn in Milwaukee County

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People remember their first payday.  It's right up there with other "firsts" -- your first day in high school, your first date, your first time hitting the road with that newly issued driver's license.  No matter how you got that first paycheck, you'll never forget the pride you felt earning money by working -- for the first time in your life.  It may have been your proudest day yet.

This summer, thousands of teenagers will search for that same feeling.  And many more won't get it.  But in Milwaukee county, there's some help.

It's called Earn and Learn, a three-phase teen employment program, and it will help 3,000 young people find work this summer.  Bill Malone is the program's coordinator.

"Typically for kids, this is their first work experience" Malone said. "They work during the summer at community based organizations and other non-profits for their first real encounter with work."

Finding work is, well, hard work.  Teens must prove their commitment before being considered for placement.  That means teens must submit their materials on time, they must be enthusiastic, and they must demonstrate zeal to employers.

"They must further prove on the job that they meet the employer's expectations for attendance, punctuality and proper dress and attitude," Malone said.

After their first summer working in the community, students move on to summer internships within city agencies including city hall, police department, and other positions in county administration.  Then, they advance to the final phase of the program -- private sector job placement.

"We have a large number of employers who work with us, and the students typically apply for a job at the company.  They are evaluated for their motivation, their skill level, and their experience," Malone said.

As far as experience, Malone says every little bit helps.  If you began your career, like me, simply mowing the neighbor's lawn, he says employers value any work experience.  

"You may have done volunteer work, you may have done things with your school or church.  All of those things count as experience and are kinds of things employers want to see"

To get you ready, Earn and Lean can help you write your first resume.  They'll help you add to it, too.

Students may submit applications beginning April 16th.  Click here to download application information

To hear the audio version of this story, click the player below.