A job fair hosted Wednesday by the Youth Employment Support (YES) Network brought together Federal Way students looking for work and employers looking to hire them.
The YES Network was formed last August to create more opportunities for youth in Federal Way to obtain and maintain employment.
The idea came in part from a recommendation from the Violence Prevention Coalition Steering Committee and brought together efforts of various organizations and nonprofits.
“We recognized youth in this community have barriers to getting and retaining a job,” said Doug Baxter, who chaired the Violence Prevention Coalition Steering Committee and is heading up the YES Network. “The idea is we can recruit kids who might have trouble getting their first job and keeping their first job.”
In February, the YES networked launched a five-session job training program for nearly 30 students at Todd Beamer High School.
Classes took place on early release days and gave students access to local employers and community members who have overcome adversity. In addition to resume writing and interviewing skills, YES Network participants received training on 21st-century job skills.
Students were referred to the program by counselors and other staff at the school.
“These are kids who have some of the tools to be successful. They just need a little help to get there,” Baxter said.
Baxter said he hopes the job training program will be replicated at other high schools in the district.
Wednesday’s job fair at Todd Beamer, which gave students from the program a chance to meet with local businesses, was open to all Federal Way Public Schools students and featured more than 20 employers, including Chick-Fil-A, Wild Waves Theme Park, the city of Federal Way and more.
Michael Boyer, a sophomore at Todd Beamer, said he was glad he participated in the job training program.
“I wanted to get better at writing resumes because I really want to get a job,” he said, adding that he’s never had a job before and would like to work at a cinema.
Boyer said he recommends the program to other students looking for work.
“I feel like schools generally don’t teach you these things, but this program does,” he said.
Neiryah Aifili, a Todd Beamer senior, said the job training program gave her confidence.
“I’ve actually gotten an interview one time, but I didn’t want to go, because I didn’t know how to do it,” she said.
The program has given Aifili the skills she needs to be successful in an interview.
“I was a really a quiet person,” she said. “I didn’t like doing interviews.”
The Youth Employment Support Network partners to build a bridge between employment opportunities and youth. YES Network members include Advancing Leadership, Federal Way Public Schools, Auburn Worksource Center, Communities In Schools of Federal Way, CHI Franciscan Health, Federal Way Rotary, Red Canoe Credit Union, Wild Waves, Multi-Service Center, Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, Conduent and the City of Federal Way.