'Map My Maryvale' program helping students get jobs, learn skills

Posted at 5:00 AM, Jun 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-19 14:10:46-04

From retail to restaurants, this summer, the faces of those working behind the counter are changing.

Economists have found that more and more teens are skipping a seasonal job while off from school.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teens in the workforce was at its highest in 1978 at more than 70 percent. 

It stayed at over 60 percent through the 1990s, but now it has dropped to about 40 percent. 

Economists cite a few reasons for the drop, including fewer jobs in an ever-changing retail market. Another reason could be more competition with older workers. Finally, experts believe parents could be to blame as many think that colleges would be more impressed to find internships on a resume, rather than a paying job. 

RELATED: 19 part-time jobs that pay at least $20 per hour

Cindy Quintero oversees the summer program with Maricopa County Public Health in Maryvale that is aimed to help students learn how to get a job in the future -- maybe even next summer. 

"I think it gives...the youth...the opportunity to grow," Quintero explained. "To gain more skill sets, to learn about communication skills, to give them that sense of responsibility, but also a sense of ownership." 

ABC15 tagged along with Quintero's summer program called "Map My Maryvale", teaching teens about interviewing and communication skills in a unique way, while also helping the community overall. 

Teens started the program earlier this month and had to go through an interview process to be selected.

"One of the interview questions that we asked the youth was, 'What do you hope to get out of this program?'" Quintero explained. "And surprisingly, a lot said that they wanted to improve their communication skills."  

NOW HIRING: Full section on job fairs, career opportunities

The program works in multiple parts. First, teens go into the classroom and work with staff and learn about interview skills, communication skills, team-building activities and more.

"Normally, I'd just be standing behind a cash register," said Carlos Mendoza, a 15-year-old program participant. "But, this time I'm actually...talking with not only businesses but also people." 

After classroom training for two days, teens and adult supervisors go out in teams to different parts of Maryvale where they survey community leaders and businesses to identify "health and social services, resources and other opportunities available to youth and families," per the program's website.

"Everybody is so different and you get to meet all these different personalities and you get to really understand what they view," explained 15-year-old participant Christina Ayala. "You don't just look at your own perspective. You get to look at other peoples." 

The teens will then enter the information they collected into an app that can be utilized by anyone who wants to learn more about the opportunities in the Maryvale area.  

RELATED: Why your teen should work this summer

"We wanted this to be a great opportunity for the youth to get experience in what it is when they're trying to go out and look for a job or an internship," Quintero said. 

The program ends in August. It is the only program like it Maricopa County.