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First jobs can be scary.

Do you remember your first job? How did you find it? What did they ask you to do? 

There are a lot of scary feelings that come along with looking for your first job. Where do you start? How do you get a job with no experience? How do you say no if you feel unsafe?

For Milo, the process was smoothed out through some help from KEYS. 

“I found out about KEYS through my school. The counsellor knew I wanted to get a job, but I was really anxious about getting a job.”

True to its roots as a youth employment agency, KEYS Employment and Newcomer Services continues to deliver programming for young people looking for help getting their first job. 

Youth Job Connection (YJC) offers paid job readiness training followed by a paid job placement. 

These programs provide youth with education and support to help them be safe and successful in their early experiences. Through training and mentorship, KEYS has supported many thousands of young people getting started in their careers. 

Milo and their school counsellor worked together on an application to the YJC summer program. The programming was online at the time due to health measures, and after a week of daily sessions on how to write a resume and cover letter, how to interview, how to job search, and direction on getting started, Milo began their journey. 

Following the training week, participants are placed with employers seeking summer students. Employers are provided with a wage subsidy to help cover the cost, and support from KEYS in mentoring their new employee. 

“After training, they put us into placements and they would have one on one meetings to tell us about our placement and we had a meeting with our new boss. They introduced us, went over expectations of what we would be doing, that kind of stuff,

“I didn’t really tell them what I was interested in, I more told them what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to go into fast food, but I knew that was everywhere, so it was hard to find something for a first job that wasn’t that.”

Milo accepted a placement at the Kingston School of Art (KSOA) as a program assistant for their summer camps. The job included helping get things set up and then cleaned up every day, making sure that the kids were ok and had the help they needed, and to provide general support to the other program staff. 

“It was really fun. The kids weren’t bad, it was an enjoyable group each week. Some kids returned, but mostly it was new kids each week. The instructor and I got along well which was really great.”

After the program ended, Milo took some time to prepare for the next experience and even took a role working in fast food to earn money while they looked for something new. A returning high school student, he looked for something that would understand their commitment to school and schedule them accordingly. 

In September, Milo returned to school to complete grade 13. 

“I didn’t want to go to college just yet, I wanted to take advantage of the schooling and the dual credit systems.

I have a lot of different interests and I want to test the waters while I still can. I’m interested in electrical because I really enjoyed the dual credit where I learned about it. I know there are lots of opportunities and it could help me to become financially stable. 

I really like working with the kids, I’d love to think about it as a future career, after the electrical when I have some stability.”

When Milo’s job experience with KEYS ended, they stayed in contact with KSOA and offered to volunteer on PA Days throughout the year. That experience paid off well as the art school then hired them to work as a summer camp office assistant the following summer. 

“In the future, I’d love to teach some short art courses to students in the summer. This year doesn’t work for it because I have school, but maybe a fall course.

I’m waiting on it for now, but in the future it is definitely something I’d like to do.”

Click here for more information on the Youth Job Connection program.

If you are a young person who is looking for work experience, contact KEYS.  If you are an employer who is willing to mentor a young person starting their career, contact us today for more information. 

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