Job Corps looks for internships in countyFeb 3, 2016 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
Fourth in a series
Job Corps officials are looking for opportunities to send students into the local community in the coming months.
"They want Job Corps to really be part of Riverton," Mayor Lars Baker said. "That's really what they're trying to work hard to do."
During a meeting this month, administrators asked members of the Wind River Job Corps community relations council for help identifying internship opportunities and other community service projects locally. Council members had plenty of ideas.
Job Corps students already have taken part in community service activities, like the Thanksgiving food drive organized by the Riverton High School Key Club, council member Kevin Kershisnik said.
Riverton Chamber of Commerce executive director Jim Davis said there are numerous other avenues for volunteerism through his organization, from the springtime Easter egg hunt to the Trick or Treat Main Street event and the annual Chamber banquet.
The students also could serve as ambassadors and mentors for local students who may benefit from enrolling at Job Corps. Clarence Thomas, who runs three juvenile services programs on the Wind River Indian Reservation, said he could bring a cohort of Job Corps students with him to local schools to promote the program.
"We see that working, and we're willing to support that," he said.
Fort Washakie superintendent Terry Ebert said he would welcome visits from Job Corps students who could speak to high school seniors about opportunities after graduation.
"We're certainly supportive of kids that want to look for a vocational type of occupation to steer them (that) way," he said. "It's local, it's really almost no cost to the student the way it's set up, and it gives them that education, gives them some opportunities then to go right into the field they're interested in."
Job Corps also provides a stepping stone to achieve additional degrees at a community college or university, he added.
"If they're not interested in going to college or to the military right out of high school, if they're thinking vocational, I think this would be a great opportunity for them," Ebert said.
Ebert also is working to develop internship opportunities for Job Corps students who could help build the new K-8 building and high school planned for the Fort Washakie campus. Ebert said he has spoken with his contractor, who was interested in the prospect of working with Job Corps students.
Several employees of the Tribal Employment Rights Office are part of the Job Corps community relations council. TERO compliance officer and training coordinator Terah Ute said her group is excited about the chance to pair students with local businesses for internships, and for permanent employment after graduation
"After talking to some of the students there they said a lot of them and their peers are talking about staying in the Riverton area," Ute said. "It's a good thing to see it come together and have it here in the Wind River area."
She said she plans to keep her eye on the list of graduating students so she can work with them to find jobs once they complete their training at Job Corps. Ute said TERO also will spread the word to other employment agencies that Job Corps students represent a viable new workforce locally.
"We were really impressed," Ute said. "I hope more people learn about it and see what it's really about. ... The kids and energy there was awesome. They all have a love for whatever trade they're in."
Terry Settlemire at the Wyoming Workforce Center said Job Corps students visit him within their first weeks at the center to make sure they are registered and ready to apply for jobs once they complete their coursework. Patrick Edwards, director of admissions at CWC and another member of the community relations council, said it will be important to help local employers realize that Job Corps students are trained to be quality workers.
"People make a lot of assumptions that all of these kids are in trouble, but that's not true," he said. "(We need to be) educating people on what Job Corps really is ... to make sure the community understands that yes, you can hire this person. It's OK; you don't need to be afraid of them."
He said the Job Corps program teaches students a trade while also incorporating social skills and structure into daily life. And "they don't just let everybody graduate," he added.
"They have to really do the program," Edwards said. "I think it's going to be a great group."
Baker pointed out that student interns are accompanied by Job Corps employees on the job. Plus, he said, the work is free.
"It doesn't cost the company anything," Baker said. "I think it's a good opportunity to discover that these guys are pretty sharp."