More than 2,000 Prince George’s teens will get a chance to explore possible career paths ranging from human resources to law enforcement thanks to an expansion of a popular county jobs youth program.
The six-week program titled “Youth@Work/Summer Youth Enrichment Program,” or SYEP, teaches students, ages 15- to 19-years-old, about career development and offers employment opportunities, said Stephanye Maxwell, the county’s director of human resources management.
The high volume of applicants is an increase from last year’s total of about 483, Maxwell said.
Coaching students about life-skills is an important aspect of the program, Maxwell said.
“We don’t just want it to be a job placement program,” Maxwell said. “We need to make sure that our young people have the talent and the skills and that they are exposed. The youth are the future and we’ve got to set a legacy in place.”
Job opportunities include working in law, social services, environmental resources, human resources and public works, Maxwell said.
Alejandra Ayala, 15, of Upper Marlboro, said she’s excited to gain professional work experience and find a lifelong career through the youth program.
“In my kind of position, I can meet the state’s attorney, the county executive — a lot of important people that can help me in whatever position I want to pursue,” Ayala said. “[The program] is important because you should work toward that goal early on so that you can network, find out if you actually like what you’re pursuing in life and to get that kind of exposure instead of waiting until you’re in college.”
SYEP also gives students “Job Readiness Training,” preparing them with tips on proper employment attire, accountability and work ethic, Maxwell said. Registration for the training began March 21 and ended in early June.
The student age group for the program ranges from 15 to 19, Maxwell said. Students will begin working after a week-long training session at Prince George’s Community College. About 700 attended a Monday orientation session.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks were featured guest speakers.
Finding lasting professions for students is a prominent goal for the program, Baker said.
“What we hope to do is expose you to careers that you’ll want to go in to,” Baker said. “That’s why it’s very important. We not only want you to be lifelong learners but we also want you to have lifelong and productive careers.”