GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Greensboro Police Department held an outdoor job fair for teenagers on Sunday as part of Police Chief Brian James' goal to employ 500 youth this summer.
Teenagers learned skills for resume writing, interviewing, and job preparation at the outdoor career fair called "Changing the Game: Community Connections." It happened at the Peeler Recreation Center.
"They say, 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And we have these youth, due to the pandemic, everything slowed down. Now it's picking back up. So what are they going to do? They get curious. If we can turn that curiosity towards employment, then it will be a success for us all," said Tiffanie Rudd, a Greensboro citizen who helped organize the event.
NC Works brought a large, air-conditioned van containing rows of laptops where teens could apply for jobs online. Employers, including a warehouse job recruiter, were on site to hire youth on the spot for work. Job Corps, a volunteer federal program, had a booth where youth could learn about training opportunities.
Free COVID-19 testing that gave patients a $10 gift card for getting swabbed was also part of the event.
Every teen walked away with a packet containing information on how to get a job, succeed in an interview, and local jobs available.
Javonte Wilson, age 14, attended the job fair to learn more about different career opportunities.
"We've got to start thinking about the career we want to do when we are older," Wilson said. "I want to start applying and looking for a job, so I just wanted to get my information, I'm 14 right now."
Ivy Vinson, in 7th grade, lives in Greensboro and hoped to find work at the event.
"I wouldn't really mind a job, extra money for the summer and for Christmas for when that time comes around," Vinson said. "Job skills are really good to have younger. So by the time I'm 18, 21ish I'll have enough experience and money."
Motivational speakers, youth mentors, and advocacy organizations met with teens. These included Punch for Pounds, The Urban Renaissance Culture, and more.
Tevin Whiteside is a 5th generation Greensboro who keeps busy - he is a barbershop owner and youth mentor who aims to inspire youth.
"Being inner-city, not having many outlets to go to, even though I was fortunate to go to UNC Charlotte and graduate and do some amazing things in Charlotte, coming back home, I wanted to set a foothold in the city," Whiteside said.
Whiteside said he tells his mentees to set goals, starting long-term with a "lifetime goal," and then getting more granular with goals at 20, 15, 10, 5 and 1-3 years.
"My goal has always been the disenfranchised member of the community. White, Black, Brown. Doesn't really matter," Whiteside said.
"The ages 14 to 18, that's the age that you are really impressionable, trying to figure out what you want to do with your life. You can easily get swayed to the left or right. I want them to realize this is your opportunity to optimize to make the best of your situation," said Whiteside.