May 2019

Help wanted: Businesses being recruited to give summer jobs to teens

From The Columbus Dispatch

Candice Greenwade’s first job was working as a summer camp counselor, reading to kids through a public library program.

They were foundational experiences for a young teenager, and they set the stage for her future career path.

“I’ve had that work mentality my whole life,” she said. “And I can say I’ve been working since I was 14.”

Today, Greenwade helps other young people land their first jobs through her position as director of education and youth services at the Columbus Urban League. And she’s looking for businesses and agencies willing to give teens the same type of early work experiences.

The Urban League and Franklin County and Columbus officials recently launched an effort to recruit more than 100 businesses willing to hire teens for the summer.

There’s a shortage of such positions, in part because of a change in the county’s publicly funded youth employment initiative, which several years ago shifted from a summer program to a year-round one.

Franklin County still supports about 1,200 teens working part-time jobs at nonprofit agencies. But there are hundreds of other young people, many from economically disadvantaged areas of central Ohio, on waiting lists for summer jobs.

All three Franklin County commissioners and the head of the Columbus City Council recently recorded videos in hopes of recruiting employers to hire 600 teens in part-time positions paying at least $9 an hour for 20 hours a week.

“We’re asking you to bring those kids in and show them a good work experience,” said Joy Bivens, director of the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services. ”… No business is too small and no business is too large, as long as the young person will have an opportunity to learn and explore.”

Businesses can contact the Columbus Urban League at 614-372-2127 or submit an interest form through the group’s website at The Urban League will handle the screening process and connect employers with teens.

Arthur Hurst Jr., vice president and chief of program performance and innovation at the Urban League, said the summer internships help to build work ethic and habits in teens who, six or seven years from now, will be part of the area’s workforce.

“A lot of the young people that we serve, they don’t have a lot of role models and seeing what it looks like to go to work, leave the house every morning at 8 o’clock, come home every night at 5 o’clock,” he said. “They don’t see a lot of that.”

Asya Mosley was 14 when she landed her first paying job — a summer gig as a camp counselor and maintenance worker. When the Groveport teen wasn’t serving as a leader of young campers at the Douglas Recreation Center just northeast of Downtown, she was picking up trash or cleaning the lunchroom.

But it was a job, with a regular schedule of 20 to 30 hours a week and a paycheck at a time when her family was dealing with some financial struggles.

That first summer work experience has led to other opportunities, including stints at a local Veterans Administration office and as an assistant for Stephanie Hightower, president and chief executive officer at the Columbus Urban League.

Later this year, Mosley, now 18, will attend Youngstown State University, with plans to pursue a degree in international business. She’d like to open her own school someday.

“I know a lot of the kids who work here go back and they give in their communities in some way,” she said.

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