Cherokee Nation Summer Youth Employment Program finds jobs for 726 participants
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation has helped Cherokee youth earn a collective $1.6 million in potential summer wages.
The Cherokee Nation Summer Youth Employment Program placed 726 Native youth in jobs in June and July, helping them gain valuable work experience and income for high school, college and other needs.
The program, administered by the tribe’s Career Services department, helped 726 youth, ages 16 to 24, work 40 hours a week for eight weeks when the program wraps up on July 28.
Each earns $7.25 per hour for a total potential income of $2,320 each, and a collective $1.6 million in summer wages.
“The Summer Youth Employment Program is a chance for hundreds of Cherokee Nation youth from all across our 14 counties to earn a good salary, but the experience and knowledge gained will be invaluable,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “As history has shown, many youth who participate in the summer program eventually find a full-time career with the tribe, and they continue to serve the Cherokee Nation for years to come. That is an investment we continue to be very proud of, and I commend the staff in Career Services for their commitment to this program.”
While many of the young participants work within Cherokee Nation departments across the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction, the program also found opportunities for youth in the public and private sectors, including in schools and businesses.
“I can’t say enough about what a great opportunity the Cherokee Nation Summer Youth Employment Program has been for hundreds of youth every year since the program began in 1977,” Cherokee Nation Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley said. “This program is helping young men and women decide what career path they may choose to take as they prepare to transition into today’s workforce. I think it’s a testament to the Cherokee Nation that this year’s number of participants is one of the largest groups of applicants we’ve seen.”
Nineteen-year-old Madison Shoemaker, a Northeastern State University sophomore from Muskogee and former member of the Cherokee National Youth Choir, found a summer job working with Zomac School of Music in Muskogee County. This is her second year in the tribe’s summer youth work program, and she uses her income to pay tuition costs of summer classes.
“My primary goal at work is to be a support staff and a customer service representative, and I’ve really had to learn a lot about the industry,” Shoemaker said. “I talk with dealers and corporations, and I feel like this experience has really helped me grow as a person and prepared me to have my own business. While I want to be a doctor and I hope to work for the Cherokee Nation, I eventually want to have my own practice. I’ve learned things in the summer youth program that have given me the tools I’ll need to do that.”
In recent years, the Cherokee Nation Summer Youth Employment Program has connected an average of nearly 690 participants each summer to job opportunities in northeastern Oklahoma.
For more information on the annual Cherokee Nation Summer Youth Employment Program, call 918-453-5555. Learn more about Cherokee Nation Career Services online at http://www.cherokee.org/Services/Career.