Strong participation in the youth job fair

City Clerk Stephanie Mendoza, left, and Acting Director of Parks and Recreation Audrey Thompson attend the mayor’s job fair at Evanston Township High School on March 12. (Photo by Wendi Kromash) Credit: Wendi Kromach

Acting Director of Parks and Recreation Audrey Thompson strolled through the ETHS gymnasium, chatting with students, city employees, and representatives from more than 50 businesses and about 15 city departments Saturday at the Mayor’s Youth Summer Jobs Program job fair, held at Evanston Township High School.

Doors opened at 8 a.m. and closed at noon, but during those four hours approximately 700 registered students aged 14 to 18, most of Evanston’s postcodes 60201 and 60202, showed up to meet and interview potential employers.

The goal of the job fair is to help young people in Evanston gain paid work experience with real work expectations. Organizers also hope the teens will be exposed to basic financial literacy and social-emotional growth during their nine-week summer job experiences.

There were jobs available in seven different categories, including summer camps, administration, catering, careers and retail. Some were full-time and some part-time; the hourly rate of pay was included for each position. The vast majority were in Evanston, but other locations included Lincolnwood, Wilmette, Highland Park and Northbrook.

Juniors Jonathan and Desiree interviewed several future employers at the mayor’s job fair at Evanston Township High School on March 12. (Photo by Wendi Kromash) Credit: Wendi Kromach

There was no shortage of teenagers queuing to register, interview and compare notes.

The city subsidizes many positions to help employers create opportunities they might not otherwise be able to afford. The program has been a mainstay at Evanston for 30 years. Funds for the grants come from the city’s annual budget and community development block grants.

The teens received a list of employers in attendance ahead of time, giving them time to research or visit the companies before meeting someone from the company in person.

Thompson shared his disappointment that only 100 of the approximately 700 registered applicants registered in advance and attended the job readiness and resume workshops offered. Teens who registered in advance could skip the queue and go straight to the tables of the employers they wanted to meet.

Larry and Jane Murphy, owners of YoFresh Yogurt Café on Chicago Avenue, are enthusiastic supporters of the mayor’s youth summer employment program. They have been married for 55 years, in business for eight years and have been attending the fair for six years. Coffee is the second career for both, as they have previously worked in helping and service professions.

Larry Murphy explained how grateful they are as a business for surviving the pandemic, which the couple credits solely to the outpouring of “community support, restoration opportunities and more”.

They enjoy working with the young people they meet and are keen to provide employment opportunities within the Evanston community. All of their future employees participate in a training program that includes performance-based incentives and guidance on how to interact with the public.

Jane Murphy said the young people she works with often see her and her husband more as mentors than just employers. They do everything they can to help their employees maximize both their potential and their possibilities, said Jane Murphy.

Jane and Larry Murphy, owners of YoFresh Yogurt Cafe, attended a job fair for young people at Evanston Township Secondary School on March 12. (Photo by Wendi Kromash) Credit: Photo by Wendi Kromash

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