High school students hone job-seeking skills at camp -- Gazette.Net


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After a week at camp, 26 Prince George’s County high school students will have professional resumes, interviewing skills and an idea of some of the top industries in the county.

The students, participants in the inaugural five-day Career Exploration Camp at the Columbia Park Community Center this week, are preparing to apply for entry-level jobs and begin thinking about a career, said Antoinette Battle, the center’s facility director.

“Before coming to this camp, I didn’t know how a resume really looked,” said Chioma Okeke, a rising junior at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville.

Chioma, who said creating a resume and a profile on professional networking website LinkedIn was not difficult, explained that she will use her new resume to apply for food-service jobs.

Energy company Pepco partnered with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission to write the curriculum for the camp, said Janice Clements, the camp director.

The camp, which is listed with a $120 enrollment fee in the commission catalog, was free to this week’s students because of Pepco’s sponsorship, Battle said. An expanded, two-week version of the camp will take place in late July and early August, Clements said. Parents can register their children for the camps at pgparks.com or in person at any Park and Planning Commission center.

Clements said she wants students to learn “the ability to express themselves, putting together words to express themselves on paper and in person.”

After creating resumes, the students gleaned interviewing tips — make eye contact, give a firm handshake and describe yourself positively — from members of Pepco’s human resources department, said Conrad Samuels, Pepco’s manager of talent acquisition, who helped Clements develop and facilitate the camp.

“The skills they’ll develop here will help them with any employer,” Samuels said. “They need the ability to be on time, to be flexible, to work as a team, to adapt on the fly.”

Samuels became involved with the Career Exploration Camp after looking through the commission’s summer catalog for camps for his children and finding a similar career camp for younger children, which Battle said was canceled due to low enrollment. Samuels said he wanted to use his experience in human resources to work with a career camp for older students.

The camp, which had space for about 30 participants and enrolled 26, was open to children ages 13 to 17. Teens ages 14 to 17 can apply for a minor work permit if they are offered a job, according to information from the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Joshua Woodall, a rising junior at Kennedy Krieger High School in Baltimore, said he thinks the hardest part of applying for a job will be presenting himself and describing his skills to strangers.

“We’re taking steps to prepare us for life, what we’re supposed to do at a job interview,” said Joshua, a Bowie resident who would like to work at the new library branch in south Bowie.

The students toured the Pepco control center in Rockville on June 19 and Wegmans food market in Lanham and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority office in Landover on June 21. These field trips exposed the students to a range of career opportunities, Samuels said.

“We want to build that self-confidence [the students] need to apply for jobs,” Clements said.

Battle said some campers may have the opportunity to apply for jobs soon if several area businesses accept her invitation to attend Friday’s graduation ceremony and mingle with the camp participants, who can display their newfound professional skills.

“I’m hoping maybe some of them will come away with a job,” Battle said.

abrownback@gazette.net