Guest op-Ed: Everett Summer Jobs Program is a huge Asset to the City

By Deanna Deveney, Esq.

For more than 25 years, the Everett Summer Jobs Program has been helping the city’s youth build their resumes and take their first crack at a “real life job.”  Since Mayor DeMaria has taken over, the program has evolved into one of the largest and most successful of its kind in the area, and it is something that he is particularly passionate about.

Recreation Leader Mike DiPietro along with Human Resource Generalist Roberto Velasquez, oversee the program beginning with the application and interview process. Over the years they’ve perfected the process to make the kids more comfortable and confident, and have transitioned to a group interview format, which gives everyone a chance to speak, while taking a little pressure off them individually.

“For most kids, it’s their first real life work experience, so they can be a little nervous at first,” DiPietro said.

Prior to the interview, applicants are given a questionnaire to prepare in advance, and one of the top priorities during the interview is to learn more about each applicant so that they can better place them in something that suits their skillset and interests.

“A lot of these kids still don’t know what they want to do,” DiPietro said, “so we try to help guide them and encourage them to try something new.”

Many times after they are asked about their hobbies and interests, the kids will discover a new passion or hidden talent, or expand upon an existing one and have a chance to showcase it.  For example, some budding artists designed beautiful murals, an editing pro helped out in the TV department and a student with a knack for electricity built something for the high school.

Once the youth are hired, they are reminded that it is indeed a “real job” and that they need to be on time and follow the rules.

“We tell them, ‘we want to know we can rely on you,’ and that helps build their confidence,” Velazquez said.

On any given day, tasks can include anything from painting fire hydrants and cleaning up the parks, to working indoors in an administrative role or being a camp counselor for the younger children. Kids are typically placed where they will be most successful and where they have a strong interest.

This year has some exciting new opportunities on tap, including working in the gardens with the Everett Community Growers and working IT support for the elderly and disabled as part of a new program called Digital Navigators.

In addition to working and receiving a paycheck, there are a variety of educational opportunities and training sessions throughout the summer, including presentations by the Everett PD, and guidance on things like opening up your own checking account, registering to vote and applying for financial aid for college.

And of course, you’ll get to meet the Mayor too!  Mayor DeMaria is very involved in the program and makes an effort to meet every kid and get to know them. On the last day there is an end of summer party with games, food and fun where the Mayor thanks everyone for their hard work.

Due to the pandemic, last year’s program looked much different than years past. For the first time ever, the program was entirely virtual, losing the important personal connection aspect. Despite the challenges however, the kids came together and learned some valuable new skills, including everyone’s new best friend, zoom! Deanna Deveney is the Director of Communications and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Office of Mauyor Carlo DeMaria

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