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First In A Series: Summer Youth Employment

Job Training Classes Teach Customer Service Skills

By Jeff Cohen

August 02, 2010

Summertime in Hartford is often filled with stories of young people doing the wrong things. But this week, WNPR is taking a look at a jobs program that has Hartford students taking a different path.

Capital Workforce Partners runs a program to train, employ, and pay Hartford-area students. In the first in a series, WNPR’s Jeff Cohen sits in on a class at the Blue Hills Civic Association.

Each morning for four hours, this classroom is filled with 26 teenage students learning basic steps of how to get, and keep, a job. Karen Penn is their teacher.

“The first year they’re just learning basic resume writing skills, job writing skills. The second tier, which is where these students are, it builds on that. And then the final year, they actually go out into a workplace setting."

ROSADO: Wilberto Rosado. Fifteen. When I heard they were giving out money, that’s when I knew that I wanted to come.

OTHER: They’re not really giving out money, like, here, take this check. You have to work for the money.

COHEN: What would you be doing over the summer if you didn’t…

ROSADO: Doing nothing at home. Which I don’t want to do. I actually want to work and want to know how to get a job, how to do a resume.

COHEN: Aren’t there more fun things you could be doing with your summer?

ROSADO: The thing is, my fun thing right now is waiting Friday to get my check.

Today, Penn is having her students write and act out skits on how to perform good customer service. Here’s the scenario.

“Put yourself in the place of an athlete, entertainer, politician whatever the case may be. And how would you go about helping that person?”

In one skit, Lebron James needs a hotel room. The students try it twice. The first time goes badly on purpose. The second time ends up with a happy hotel employee and a satisfied professional basketball player.

BOY 1: Yo. I’m Lebron James, you know. I’m trying to get a hotel room…

BOY 2: Lebron James? What? You crazy, boy. You supposed to play for the Knicks, man. Then you’re thinking about coming in my hotel? My hotel?

GIRL 1: Okay, here’s the good way.

BOY 1: What’s up, man. I’m Lebron James. I’m trying to get a hotel room.

BOY 2: Yeah. It’s Lebron James!...That room you’re talking about. Let me check. Alright, a half hour.

BOY 1: Alright. Thanks.

Once students finish their in class training, t his program can help them get real jobs. Tomorrow, we'll meet a student working at a television company.

Reprinted with permission of Jeff Cohen, author of the blog Capital Region Report. To view other stories on this topic, search Capital Region Report at http://capitalregionreport.wordpress.com/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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