Last time I checked in with Comprenew, the youth were excited to be the first team to lay the groundwork for an urban garden. I recently received these photos updating me on their progress this summer. Enjoy!
Age: 16 Age: 17
School: East Kentwood High School: Ottawa Hills High School
Summer Job: Comprenew Summer Job: Comprenew
Dream Job: Record Producer / Athlete Dream Job: Engineer / Architect
Favorite Subject: English Favorite Subject: Math
Yesterday I had a chance to talk to Jalen & Ciara, two youth employees at Comprenew Environmental, about what they like so much about taking apart computers and how this unique job will help them in the future.
More from them in a moment, first a little more about their employer…
What I didn’t know when I arrived was that while Comprenew has often served as a work site for other youth employment programs [like for fellow grantees at the Hispanic Center and Steepletown], this is the inaugural year for Comprenew’s own program.
When Comprenew learned of this grant opportunity just last month, they had to scramble a bit to put something together. Now, less than a month since receiving the grant, they have gone through stacks of applications, conducted interviews and orientation and have 12 new youth employees on the payroll as of July 11. And that’s not all. The group will also go on “field trips” to a water treatment center and a landfill to expand their knowledge of sustainability, they have laid the foundation for an urban garden out back that will continue to be a part of the program in years to come and in a few weeks they will have the opportunity to build resumes and cover letters with the help of their supervisors Kyle & Blake.
As for the normal work days, Jalen, Ciara and their 10 teammates work from 10-3:30, Monday through Thursday disassembling computers so the parts can be properly recycled Talking to Jalen & Ciara, it was very clear how much they enjoy working at Comprenew…
Why do you like working here?
Ciara: It’s productive. I’m a hands-on person and this work is very hands-on. There’s always something to do.
What important things did you learn about interviewing? [This was their first interview experience]
Jalen: Eye contact, stay positive with everything you say, answer questions right on target
In your next interview, what will you be able to tell them you learned here that will apply at a new job?
Jalen: Responsibility, coming here on time, punching in, punching out & being alert
Ciara: Communication skills & being respectful
Jalen: The field trips, and I like working with computers and taking stuff apart
Ciara: I like everything about the job. You get to meet new people, take things apart and you’re learning at the same time.
Will this job help you in school this year?
Ciara: Yes, because it keeps me motivated. Get up, go to school, go to work. It’s getting me ready for the real world.
How do you think this will help you in the future?
Ciara:I want to be a mechanical engineer and an architect. We do landscaping and disassemble computers… so, this helps me a lot.
What have you learned this summer about balancing work with the rest of your life?
Ciara: Work is a priority to me. School and work. And family, that’s important.
Jalen: Work is a priority for me too. I’m going to be 17 in September and when I’m working and have money I can help my mom. Instead of asking her to give me money, I can help her pay the bills. I’m getting to that age, I need to help her out.
What is your ultimate goal? What do you want to get out of working here this summer?
Jalen & Ciara: A sense of accomplishment. We worked here every day and started the garden that will be here for a long time. We set a record for most disassembled computers in a week.
The work seems to be paying off already. With Comprenew now on his resume, Jalen just had an interview for another job. So good luck to him with his latest job opportunity! Although I know there is another job he would be interested in. Both Jalen and Ciara expressed interest in working at Comprenew full-time or during the school year.
And supervisor Kyle hopes this will be a possibilty:
“We would like to extend this, if we can, to an after-school program. As long as we can continue to fund this project, I want our own youth in here that we can kind of teach and mold and steer along, and that will open up more opportunities throughout the school year to talk about college and ask them “what do you want to do when you get out of high school?”