Byline: Morgan Taylor/Multimedia Producer
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Youth Works Department invites potential worksites for the 2023 Summer Youth Employment Program.
By request only, applications are available for those businesses seeking a free hand for the summer with a deadline of Jan. 31. Any business within the Mvskoke Reservation jurisdictional boundaries can become a worksite. They may have to provide a tax identification number, LLC, or other documentation for proof.
Youth Coordinator Cody Evans said that worksites must be willing to work with “at-risk/high-risk” youth. Business owners must be ready to have placement for participants for eight weeks, starting June 5, 2023, through July 28, 2023. They must be willing to attend one mandatory “worksite orientation” that will be announced later. All worksites, including returning worksites, must complete a new application.
If students have a place in mind, they can refer the business owners to MCN Education and Training for further information.
According to Youth Specialist Brigham Bert, the program encourages participants to bring a worksite of interest.
“That helps us expand what jobs are in the area,” Bert said. ” There may be a ma-and-pop business we don’t know about.”
Bert and Evans still encourage previous program sites to return.
Bert commends Neal’s Furniture for being a continuing participant. “I know John personally,” he said. ” He just likes to provide them a good place to work.”
Individuals may be a relative of a business owner and would like to work for the “family business.”
“Unfortunately, participants can’t be supervised by a family member,” Bert said. However, if the supervisor is not a family member, the individual can still partake in the program working at the family business.
This is important due to the role the supervisor of the youth takes on voluntarily, holding them accountable at the workplace. They are to treat each participant as a regular employee and enforce the rules of the worksite.
“We ask that all worksites treat the students like their own employees, follow that process with them,” Evans said. “They follow their rules.”
The other thing that the SYEP encourages worksites to do is work with the student’s schedule for school activities so that students find a place that can accommodate their needs.
Evans said students could be paid for their time in class as long as their teacher signed their timesheet along with the worksite supervisor.
Participation is mutually beneficial as students gain working experience. At the same time, worksites get to provide the work and placement; all while the MCN SYEP pays wages at no cost to the worksite or business owners.
“I know they get a lot of kids that return year in and year out to them until they cannot be on the program,” Bert said. “It helps them build that relationship, and worksites look forward to the same kids they had that previous year.”
Citizen Mercedes Dunn participated in the SYEP last summer.
Dunn wanted to find employment at a media/communications type business. She requested this from the SYEP when she was looking for worksite placement. She was given a list of places to choose from in her chosen industry when she decided to take her post at Mvskoke Media.
Dunn took advantage of the program by requesting employment geared toward her preferred career interest.
“I wanted to do something that I wanted to go to college for, and I didn’t want to waste my time,” Dunn said.
Seeing the everyday workplace setting and being included in the newsroom helped Dunn get a brief idea of what it would be like working in the media industry.
It was a full circle moment for Dunn when she got the opportunity to write an article and be featured in the Mvskoke Media Newspaper.
“I would take advantage of the program,” Dunn said. “If you’re like me and have an idea of what you want to do, you can tell them (SYEP), and they will accommodate that,” Dunn said.
Previously, Dunn was employed at a dentist’s office through the program. She claims that experience changed her mind about becoming a dentist, and she was able to try a new site the following year.
“I know what I want to do now,” Dunn said.
Currently, Dunn is attending Haskell Indian Nations University as a communications major. She hopes to return to her previous work during the summer break through the SYEP.
Applications for individual participants ages 16-21 will be open from Dec. 31-March 31.