The University of Louisville will be giving back this summer as Irvin Williams, assistant director of custodial services, partners with the Mayor’s SummerWorks Program to give up to 25 youth summer jobs on campus. This is the first year UofL has participated in the SummerWorks Program.
The Mayor’s SummerWorks Program started in 2011 when Mayor Greg Fischer saw the high unemployment rate among youth and wanted to improve the community. The program helps students, ages 16 to 21, find jobs and includes workshops, practice interviews, resume reviews and resources. Since its first year, the program has placed 11,600 local youth. The program spans seven weeks throughout the summer and students work in various capacities at various companies around the city.
Williams participated in a similar program in 1973 when he was 16 and worked at the Jefferson County Board of Education. Students in that program worked 7 hours a day Monday through Friday in the summer and 1 to 2 hours after school during the school year.
Williams said that experience inspired him to be a part of the Mayor’s SummerWorks program, adding that the mentorship component is why he believed it would be a good fit for UofL.
Exposure to college experience
Orientation was held on March 15, where employers were educated on the program. Eighty businesses set up booths later that month as part of a career fair for the students participating. Each business brought two to three recruiters to discuss their business with students and gauge their interest. Williams estimated at least 200 students attended the event, and 21 students expressed interest in working with UofL’s Physical Plant department as part of the program.
Those students will work on both the Belknap and Health Science Campuses, doing custodial and groundwork, including landscaping, Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., from June 12 to July 28. These students are expected to not only gain valuable work skills, but also a better understanding of life on campus.
“We hope to expose them not only to good work ethics and what we do, but also take them on a tour of the campus for that college experience,” said Carla Meredith, custodial services manager in the Physical Plant Department.
The program requires at least two staff to be trained as mentors, but Williams said all three of his staff will be trained to accommodate summer schedules and ensure the students feel welcome and well assisted.
“(The students) will bring new and fresh ways of doing things that will come from young creativeness and from a young person’s perspective,” he said.
There are already plans for this partnership to continue next year.