Shelby County summer jobs program takes teens behind-the-scenes with local first responders

Shelby County summer jobs program takes teens behind-the-scenes with first responders

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A first responder’s job can be difficult, but sometimes it can be very rewarding.

This week, 200 young people saw that first hand through the Shelby County Summer Jobs Program.

“The purpose of this program is for them to get real work experience and also learn a little bit more about what they want to do in the future,” said Frankie Dakin with Shelby County Public Works.

The program is called Mayor Lee Harris’ Summer Work Experience. For seven weeks, 200 youth ages 16 to 24 are doing paid work with county leaders. On Fridays they learn about a different field.

This Friday it was getting the feel for what it would be like to be a firefighter and EMT.

“I didn’t realize there were seven different divisions,” said Caleesha Body, participant. “I just thought they were all Memphis firefighters. I’m learning about the different divisions.”

Shelby County Fire Chief Alvin Benson was happy to participate in the inaugural program. He says he has spots to fill and it’s good to get someone interest at a young age.

“I have 15 openings right now in the Shelby County Fire Department looking for qualified applicants,” said Benson.

He hopes a takeaway is how much you help your community in this job.

“I tell them when you call 911 you call for law enforcement, fire or EMS and we’re two of those things,” said Benson.

This summer the group will also learn how to interview, create a resume and budget.

“The more I got in to it I learned there are a lot of things I didn’t know about our government,” said Jason Littleton Jr, participant. “Now I’m learning all those things, meeting different people, making those connections. That will come in handy later.”

“It’s a lot of fun, and you’re networking and building connections," said Body.

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