Job Fair connects White Center teens with employers

The fourth annual Peace ‘N’ the Hood Basketball Tournament at Steve Cox Memorial Park underwent a shakeup with a new component added to benefit teens in White Center: a job fair tailored for teens ages 16-24.

Representatives from 30 employers and employment resources participated in the job fair and the attendance goal was nearly doubled, with 150 teens taking part.

DNRP Customer Services Coordinator Jody Addicks works at the White Center Teen Program, where the job fair took place.

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“Justin Cox, who works at Southwest Youth and Family Services and also works part-time at the Teen Center, came to me several months before this year’s basketball tournament stating that he wanted to add a new component to the tournament – a job fair for youth,” Jody said. “I was overwhelmed by the initial idea, but our amazing partnership between Southwest Youth & Family Services, WorkSource, Educurious and King County Parks made it possible.”

The two-part event was hosted on June 28, 2017. The job fair went from 2-4 p.m., and the basketball tournament from 4-8 p.m.

“We were able to work with both groups of youth: those who were intent on finding a part-time job, and the other that wanted to participate in the basketball tournament,” Jody said. “Many teens participated in both job fair and basketball tournament!”

“I contacted Dan Bernard, a WorkSource employee I met through an adult career fair to see if they’d be willing to help put on a youth career fair unlike any other,” Jody said. “I asked them specifically to find jobs in White Center, and ultimately, jobs that are one bus ride away, because transportation is a major barrier for our teens.”

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Going outside of their usual parameters and network, Worksource invited employers from the Greater White Center Area that met the ‘one-bus-ride-away’ request. Of the 30 employers and resource groups, the Pacific Science Center received positive feedback for its engagement with teens. Others that attended are Starbucks, Walgreens, King County Library and Job Corp.

During the event, Jody and staff members helped the teens prepare to meet new employers by giving them talking points and initiating the introductions. “Some of our teenagers have a hard time creating that first conversation, so by us creating that opportunity, some of our teens were offered interview dates by employers,” Jody said.

In order to prepare teens for success, resume-building workshops were available ahead of the job fair. “One of the first teens to walk through the door to the job fair had come in to the teen center to work on his resume in the week before. I remember when he began attending the teen center several years ago and now I saw him in a tie and his resume in hand,” Jody said.

The driving force behind the success of the event is fueled by the need to create an equitable community for teens. “The White Center Teen Program has a goal to provide new opportunity to teens in the White Center community,” Jody said. “This Job Fair event provided opportunity for a summer job, a chance to gain new skills and build a resume.”

A combined effort of community outreach included traditional fliers, social media, networking with youth providers and nonprofits and word of mouth.

“We’ve had teens come back to the teen center saying ‘I got a job!’” Jody said. “We are happy with the turnout, all the hard work was worth it.”

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