Zavijava Thomas was taking General Education Development (GED) prep classes at Kankakee Community College, when she learned of an opportunity to gain work experience through the college’s WIOA Young Adult Program.
Thinking it would be an opportunity to meet new people, Thomas, who was a homeschooling student prior to enrolling at KCC, spent the summer of 2013 working at the Kankakee Public Library in the Youth Services Department. Her duties included interacting with library patrons, planning family reading nights, and shelving books.
“Zavijava was amazing,” said Camille Rose, youth services supervisor at the Kankakee Public Library. “She had good interactions with the kids and was great one-on-one. The kids looked up to her and respected her.”
The WIOA Young Adult Program is designed to support and encourage students age 16 through 24 explore career opportunities, gain hands-on experience and build work history. The program recently shifted focus from offering summer employment opportunities like Zavijava experienced to preparing students with job skills and internships throughout the year.
The program asks for local businesses to host an intern for up to 29 hours a week. Each participant is trained in Microsoft Word and Excel, customer service, telephone etiquette and time management. The program pays the wages of the students for the businesses, which are covered under KCC’s insurance.
While having extra staff is helpful for the businesses and organizations that take advantage of hiring students, the students get the added benefit of building their resume.
Part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program, YAP is funded by the Grundy Livingston Kankakee Workforce Board. YAP also offers participants alternative secondary school offerings and career exploration activities. YAP provides mentoring, academic counseling, occupational skill training, and workshops on leadership and teamwork. Businesses who are interested in taking part in providing a position for a student or students, who are interested in participating in the program, should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.