Last summer, Awteana Snedecker and Cambree Booth participated in their first Summer Youth Work Experience — but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they went through the program online.
This year they were eager for more hands-on learning and were excited to be placed at Milestones Learning Center in Pataskala for five weeks.
As they wrapped up their final days at the daycare, both Cambree, a student at Lakewood High School, and Awteana, who attends Newark High School, said they got a good understanding of what working at a childcare center could be like.
Not only did they help with cleaning and organizing, but they spent time with children ranging in age from toddlers to school-age kids.
“You have to have patience, not everyone is going to listen,” Cambree said. “Don’t lose your temper, especially with the little kids.”
“It’s important to make sure everyone is safe and having fun too,” Awteana added.
Organized by Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD), the Summer Youth Work Experience program allows students ages 14 to 21 who have a disability the opportunity to explore careers and gain on-the-job training.
Throughout the year, students have had the opportunity to participate in Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). This new program provides short sessions that focus on introducing students to career options, job skills, post-secondary options and self advocacy.
For the 54 Licking County students who chose to try a summer work experience, they got the opportunity to put those skills into practice.
After the summer of 2020 — which focused on virtual trainings or very small groups — participants could once again decide which hands-on option was the best fit for them.
Students participating in work experiences got to choose from a variety of job sites, including Milestone, Giant Eagle, Bob Evans, the Holiday Inn, the Goodwill store on Union Street, Coughlin Automotive and Rural King, depending on their interests.
During their five week session, they received support from a job coach – from either Greenleaf Job Training Services or Licking/Knox Goodwill Industries — and earned minimum wage.
Hannah Warton, who is homeschooled, decided to try working at Giant Eagle in Heath, to get more experience working with other people.
She had the opportunity to be a cashier, as well as helping in the bakery and working on stocking and carts.
“I want to be a responsible adult,” she said. “I want to get out there and show my family I can do it.”
Jonathan Jacobson, a student at Granville High School, chose to spend his time at Coughlin because he’s always been interested in cars.
He got the opportunity to help out with oil changes and tire rotations as well as power washing and taking out trash.
He said he’s interested in becoming a mechanic but is also considering a career in welding.
“This is my first actual job,” he said. “I’m just learning about going to work — being on time, responsibility, listening, being on top of things— it all plays into the whole experience.”
Extreme heat during some work days didn’t stop Dakota Arnott from going above and beyond at Rural King.
The Newark High School junior enjoyed learning how to use a pallet jack and said he’d be interested in getting a part time job at Rural King during the school year.
Samantha Madden, a student at My Place to Be, said she’s also hoping her summer work experience will turn into an after-school job.
She said she has loved every minute of working at Goodwill, especially hanging the clothes.
One of her most important lessons was the importance of attendance and showing up, even on days she wasn’t feeling 100 percent.
Working at Goodwill also helped Emlyn Booth understand what kind of job she might like in the future.
A student at Lakewood High School, Emlyn has been helping to sort clothes donated to the store, as well as cleaning and decorating with some of the merchandise.
“I like a lot of predictability and not interacting with too many people, so I appreciate that (about this job). And we have transportation too, so that’s great,” she said.