The Lincoln Human Resource Management Association’s (LHRMA) Workforce Readiness Committee piloted “1st Job-Lincoln” in 2013 and coined that name to promote the concept of preparing youth for their first professional job. Unlike other typical summer jobs for teens, 1st Job-Lincoln gives students an opportunity to explore a potential career field for which they may not otherwise be able to access as a high school student. 1st Job-Lincoln has two primary goals: (1) help prepare a foundation for youth who are seeking a particular career field, and (2) provide employers an opportunity to seek out qualified candidates for future employment needs.
To be eligible for a 1st Job-Lincoln internship, students are expected to:
• Go through a workforce readiness training session that covers employer expectations for interns, such as attire, attendance, attitude, and other areas.
• Prepare a resume and cover letter, for which they will receive one-on-one coaching by LRHMA human resources representatives in connection with their mock interview.
• Participate in the job fair with Champion Employers and adhere to any subsequent application requirements (e.g., formal interview) with the interested employer.
The cornerstone of 1st Job-Lincoln is to create real-world experience for these youth, which includes students convincing an employer to hire them as well as on-the-job experience. While it would be ideal if every participating student were hired, it’s understood that some Champion Employers will not find a suitable match. Just like the real world, this could be due to a combination of things like skill level, presentation styles, and student motivation.
To date, LHRMA’s efforts have yielded 28 paid internships for students in our community related to information technology; a small number in scale, but large numbers for a project coordinated by a local volunteer human resources group dedicated to retaining and enhancing talent in Lincoln’s workforce. “Several of the students from the 2013 pilot project were kept on by their Champion Employer past the summer intern period and/or were able to secure other opportunities because of their 1st Job-Lincoln connections, an impressive testament to the talent we are helping to foster in the community,” said Kim Michael, chair of LHRMA’s Workforce Readiness Committee. “I have no doubt those same high school students would not have had that kind of opportunity otherwise.”
Working in collaboration with the Lincoln Public Schools’ IT Focus Program, Lincoln Lutheran High School, and Pius X High School, 1st Job-Lincoln has been a unique opportunity for Lincoln high school students. New this year to the program, Lincoln Lutheran’s Computer Science Teacher Scott Burns stated that, “1st Job-Lincoln is providing incredible opportunities for our students. I am very grateful to the employers and organizers for providing experience and exposure to the incredible careers and possibilities that Lincoln’s flourishing technology sector has to offer. 1st Job-Lincoln is a great program for all involved and is truly of great benefit to the entire community.”
Fourteen companies, coined “Champion Employers,” participated this year in 1st Job-Lincoln’s job fair. Of those, nine employers found a match, hiring 13 students. David Hartline, IT Manager at UNL’s College of Business Administration, describes his experience with hiring two interns through 1st Job-Lincoln: “We have been very impressed with the talent these two 1st-Job Lincoln Interns have brought to us. They are hardworking and eager to learn. IT at a place as large as UNL is complicated, and both interns have been making great strides in understanding and helping with it. We have no doubt that both the interns and ourselves will take a lot of positives out of this internship experience, and we look forward to working with 1st Job Lincoln again next year.”
Current Champion Employers are paying the interns an hourly wage ranging from $8 to $13, with students working anywhere from 20-40 hours per week. “Words cannot describe my appreciation for the opportunities that both 1st Job-Lincoln and the UNL College of Business Administration have given me,” said Broden Collins, age 18, intern at UNL.
Choosing to participate in 1st Job-Lincoln appears to be paying off. “This is the first year the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services Information Technology Area has participated in the 1st Job-Lincoln program. We were excited to be asked to participate in the program and many of the IT staff indicated they thought it was a good idea. Colin [intern] has been an inspiration to us as he did not hesitate to begin working on computer issues we had. He found and implemented a fix to a problem some computers were experiencing within the first week. This was quite impressive. Colin has a wonderful work ethic as well. The 1st Job-Lincoln program is great and I hope we can work with them in the future.” Ed Ewbank, Senior Information Systems Analyst.
The students and Champion Employers are not the only ones who see value in the project. “Thanks so much for doing this! My son Liam participated in it last year and is doing it once again this year. What a wonderful experience to spend time with the various employers, learn firsthand how to develop a resume and conduct yourself in a possible interview. Fabulous program!,” said David Quade, parent of Liam Quade, age 17, intern at Phoenix Web Group.
“Looking ahead to 2015 and beyond, LHRMA plans to seek out how it can best be a strategic partner in the community as LPS develops The Career Academy,” said Michael. “We are proud of our contributions to the community in just two short years of operating the project. Everywhere you turn, one hears about the need to work with our high school students to keep the best and brightest in our community. Preparing a young person to enter the workforce lays the foundation for a lifetime of success and builds a stronger Lincoln community that impacts us all, promoting the concept of growing and keeping talent in Nebraska.”
With that said, the employers want to keep this going as well. Kaplan University—Lincoln campus participated in the program for the first time as well. Kate Packard, Kaplan’s Lincoln campus president remarked, “Kaplan University-Lincoln was humbled and honored to be a Champion Employer with the 1st Job-Lincoln internship program. I was utterly impressed with the organization and communication between 1st Job-Lincoln, the Champion Employers, and the students. At the student job fair you could tell that 1st Job-Lincoln invested a lot of valuable coaching and mentoring into these students to prepare them to interview with their possible employers. This will be an internship program that the Lincoln campus will be a part of for a long time to come.”
Partners working with LHRMA on the 1st Job-Lincoln project:
Career and Life Options
Greater Lincoln Workforce Investment Board
Lincoln Lutheran High School
Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development
Lincoln Public Schools IT Focus Program
Pius X High School
2014 Champion Employers:
Assurity Life Insurance Company
Lambert Vet Supply
Nebraska Department of Correctional Services
Phoenix Web Group
Tabitha Health Care
Talent Plus, Inc.
UNL-College of Business Administration