Work experience equips you with certain soft skills such as effective communication, time management, and problem solving, all of which are sought after by employers. Last year Colton Head learned these soft skills while working at H-E-B in Austin. This year, Colton and other students in Texas will receive paychecks again by participating in Summer Earn and Learn, a program that provides students with disabilities, aged 14-22, with work-readiness training and paid work experience.
What is Summer Earn and Learn?
The program is a partnership between TWC, Texas Workforce Solutions Offices and Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services (TWS-VRS). Colton started gaining work experience in the 2017 Summer Earn and Learn program through Workforce Solutions Capital Area. While working at H-E-B, Colton provided customer service, stocked groceries and retrieved carts from the parking lot. Colton said the positive experience he gained motivated him to participate in the 2018 program.
“H-E-B was my first job, and when I started working, I was nervous. But after a few days, I quickly learned how to complete my job duties,” said Colton. “It was a great experience to learn about working and receiving a paycheck.”
Later this month, Colton will know more about his 2018 employment placement. He hopes the job will relate to his career interest of photography. He recently completed photography and digital imaging classes at Austin Community College. To hone his skills, he’s been volunteering to take photos for family and friends.
“I’m trying to get into the habit of taking my camera with me wherever I go, because my mom constantly stresses the importance of always being ready for your career goals,” said Colton. Though he knows his summer will be busy with work and photography, Colton is confident he will be successful and cites the support of his mom and TWS-VRS counselors as motivators.
“I just really appreciate people who take the time to help you, to make you feel comfortable,” he said. Last year, more than 1,500 students participated in Summer Earn and Learn and worked in positions as assistant graphic designers, customer service representatives, peer counselors and others. Small and large businesses who participated in the program include Alamo College in San Antonio, the Clements Boys & Girls Club in Killeen and CVS, H-E-B, and Verizon locations throughout the state. Workforce Solutions Offices are actively reaching out to students, parents and employers to spread the word about the 2018 Summer Earn and Learn program and encourage participation. Informational efforts include:
- Workforce Solutions Borderplex — Newspaper ads, television and media announcements; informational brochures for students and employers; social media blasts
- Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas — Flyers and direct engagement with employers, resulting in participation commitments from more than 85 employers who represent a range of industries
- Workforce Solutions South Plains — Work-readiness workshops for participating students
- Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas — Flyers
For more information about the Summer Earn and Learn program, contact your local Workforce Solutions Office.