By John R. Hall
The Covid 19 outbreak of 2020 has altered many plans and programs, including the normal in-person youth career programs sponsored by West Michigan Works! In its stead, the organization is rolling out its Summer 2020 Virtual Career Readiness Program, where on-line participants can explore careers virtually, learn what careers are available, and the skills needed to begin a successful career.
The program is open to people ages 16-24 (by July 1, 2020). According to Cierra Craig, Youth Careers Coach for West Michigan Works!, all people in this age group, whether they are still in school, have graduated, or dropped out, should apply. “Eligibility is based on a number of factors including a student’s at-risk situation,” she said. “We try and verify these barriers so that we can work with each person. Once a person meets the eligibility requirements, they are contacted by a career coach who they will work with.”
She noted that the West Michigan Works! program does not guarantee placement because slots are filled as funding allows.
The six-week program dates are July 6 – August 14, 2020. The virtual classes run Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Attendance is mandatory in order to receive a certificate of completion and to receive a weekly stipend. “Participants will receive a $160 stipend each week as long as they meet the requirements,” Cierra said. “These requirements also include career exploration assignments which can be completed within a week.”
Cierra added that some participants might be hesitant to apply because they may not have access to the technology required for virtual learning. “We know some participants may not have affordable resources but we will provide them at no cost,” she said.
At the completion of the program, there will be a virtual celebration on August 13th, with a keynote speaker. Career counselors will also continue to work with participants after the program is completed.
The program reflects the times that people live in with the Covid-19 pandemic but the goals are the same. “We developed creative ways to deliver our message,” added Cierra. ‘We revamped to the virtual program for everyone’s safety.”
All applications must be submitted electronically by the deadline June 19, 2020 to be considered. More details and the application can be found at www.westmiworks.org/summeryouth.