Program helps students hunting for summer jobs

High school and college students still hunting for summer jobs can find help at the Mesa County Workforce Center in Grand Junction through an annual program connecting applicants with employers.

The center offers assistance with resume writing, interviewing skills and job search strategies as well as access to job listings Last year, almost 3,800 summer job hunters received assistance at the center, among the nearly 47,000 high school and college students who participated in the Governor’s Summer Job Hunt.

The value of a summer job isn’t just the paycheck young workers earn, but ultimately workforce development, said Steve Wright, who administers the summer job hunt program statewide for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. “It’s one thing to tell young people the value of knowing how to spell or do simple math, but it’s something else for them to recognize how important it is to get it right when they’re preparing a letter for work or having to make change. It makes the classroom learning real.”

Employers can’t teach their summer job workers everything. But opening the door to the marketplace offers a valuable companion piece to what they’ve learned in school, Wright said. In addition to enforcing successful work habits like keeping to schedules and staying organized, the experience teaches young people the value of commitment, about gaining confidence and working with others. 

The Governor’s Summer Job Hunt is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the country, said Ellen Golombek, executive director of the CDLE. “It was established by Gov. Richard Lamm in 1981, at a time when teen unemployment was particularly high. Over the last 36 years, in good economic times and bad, it has established a proven track record.”

Even in a strong economy, teens often struggle to get the work experience they need. The average unemployment rate in 2016 for teen-agers 16  to 19 years old was 13 percent.

For more information about the Governor’s Summer Job Hunt and assistance in finding summer employment, visit the Mesa County Workforce Center at 512 29 1/2 Road in Grand Junction or call 248-0871. To conduct a self-directed job search, register at connectingcolorado.com.