STUDENTS GET EXPERIENCE
Apprentices complete time in local jobs
BY HILLARY VIDERS - SPECIAL TO NORTHERN VALLEY PRESS
Graduates of the Englewood Summer Business Apprenticeship Program are pictured outside the Chiang Auditorium at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center during an Aug. 10 graduation ceremony. All photos by Hillary Vidders.
A group of 30 young Englewood residents recently completed a six-week Summer Business Apprenticeship Program conducted by the ZONE, the youth-based service program of Bergen Family Center, and funded by the City of Englewood.
The goal of the Business Apprenticeship Program is to give students skill sets that will help them compete in todayʼs job market. To do this, the students worked 25 hours a week, from July 2 through Aug. 10, at 20 participating Englewood businesses and nonprofit organizations, all Englewood Chamber of Commerce members. Being mentored by seasoned staff and businesses owners, the students acquired a wealth of on-the-job training, and by the end of the program, they were also given a $1,200 stipend.
In addition to their job assignments, the students attended weekly workshops at the Englewood Library, where they acquired career and life skills. Through these workshops, students learned how to open and manage a checking account, how to deposit their checks, manage their money more responsibly, format a resume, how non-profits operate, and more.
When asked about the most important benefits of the program, some students stated that it taught them the value of time management. “I disciplined myself to go to sleep and wake up on time, to make sure that I got to my job on time and to finish my work on time,” said Anisa Thomas. This will definitely help me when I get to college.”
Other apprentices said that they had learned specific skills, such as using computer programs and office equipment, interacting with physical therapy patients, engaging seniors and young children and establishing friendly customer relationships.
“The students also learned about themselves. They learned how to communicate more effectively and professionally,” said Mariam Gerges, a licensed clinical social worker who serves as the Business Apprenticeship Program director. “At the beginning of the program, we advised our apprentices to come in with an open mind with their placement, and many were pleasantly surprised by what their placements offered them in self- exploration, learning new skills and asking questions.
“The program lets the students have fun through the experience, while overcoming their shyness and insecurities, and, most of all, it teaches- es them to work hard and give it their all,” said Gerges.
Several of the apprentices performed their jobs so well that they were hired to continue working part-time after school. One student told Gerges that he was able to acquire a new internship in the fall by simply asking.
Now in its fifth year, the Summer Business Apprenticeship Program selects Englewood residents entering junior and senior years in high school. This year, The ZONE, received 55 applications and accept- ed 30 students. A committee comprised of local businesses and non- profits selected students from among the pool of applicants.
To date, 150 students have graduated from the program, many of whom become its ardent ambassadors. The Aug. 10 graduation ceremony and luncheon at Chiang Auditorium at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center honored the students and the businesses that had participated in the program.
Beginning at noon, apprentices and their families were greeted in the auditorium lobby by Business Apprenticeship Program staff and community leaders: Councilman-at-Large Charles Cobb, Councilwoman Katharine Glynn, Englewood Chamber of Commerce President Carol Rauscher, City Manager Ed Hynes and Executive Assistant Catherine Melendez.
The group of over 100 people then made their way into the Chiang auditorium where they were welcomed with remarks by Gerges, Rauscher, and Maria Mulry, the operations coordinator for the ZONE. Rauscher was proud to announce, “The Englewood City Council voted unanimously to fund the program!”
A video was shown with several of the apprentices speaking about their experiences, after which Maria Mulry, the operations coordinator for the ZONE, announced the winners of the team competition (S Square TK). The six person team cumulatively scored the most points for such tasks as perfect attendance, handing in time sheets promptly and submitting their resumes. The winners were all given gift certificates to Chipotle Grill.
Glynn and Cobb gave congratulatory speeches praising the graduates, and then presented each with a certificate and a warm handshake as they came to the stage.
“The experience that you have had in this program will last forever,” said Cobb. “Now, go out and have a winning school year, and use these skills—you are our future!”
PHOTOS BY HILLARY VIDERS