By Jacqueline Durett
SOUTH AMBOY—The city may have a few new “employees” later this year, but they will not be employees in the traditional sense. And when these new hires go home, they may have homework to do.
These “employees” will actually be interns from South Amboy Middle/High School, if a new co-op program launches for the 2017-18 school year.
As part of the program, high school seniors will be able to apply for a limited amount of to-be-determined municipal roles in South Amboy. The goal is to provide students, especially those students who may not plan to go to college, with real-world experience before they enter the workforce.
The idea is the brainchild of Councilman Thomas Reilly, who mentioned the project during the April 11 City Council meeting.
“The Board of Education has received it well,” Reilly said, adding that new Superintendent Jorge Diaz and Mayor Fred Henry have been very supportive.
If the co-op goes according to plan, a class of students at the beginning of the school year will begin the semester by preparing a resume and doing interview training and preparation. They will then use those skills to apply for the co-op openings, which Reilly envisions as being primarily administrative support roles in various city departments.
Selected students who are placed in city roles will spend two days each week for three to four hours a day working for the city while receiving school credit.
“I think it’s invaluable for the kids,” Reilly said. “It’s nice to put that on a resume when they leave high school.”
Reilly said students in the program would be evaluated on on-the-job elements such as punctuality and appropriate dress, which he said is especially important since the students will likely interact with the public. However, their success on the job also will be contingent on meeting the school’s expectations. Reilly said discipline issues and excessive absenteeism would compromise students’ ability to participate in the co-op.
Reilly added that while the city might benefit from the extra help, the intent of the program is really to help the young adults and give them an advantage over other candidates, whether it be through learning and using new software, understanding how a professional office works or building their networking skills.
“I think everybody benefits,” he said.
Reilly said the specifics of the program are still being worked out.
“If it goes well, it’s going to be great,” Reilly said. “What’s more important than the kids in the town?”