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The Job Corps Me- My Experience with an Amazing Occupational Training Program
What is Job Corps?
Job Corps is a free career training institution funded by the U.S. Department of Labor for people aged sixteen to twenty-four. The purpose of the program is to teach young adults the skills to be employable, then training you in one of many trade programs including Business Technology, Auto Mechanics, Culinary, Cable Installation, and Plumbing to name a few.
During a student's stay in Job Corps, he or she can receive free training in more than just a trade and career skills. Some centers (of which there are many all over the country) offer programs to obtain a High School Diploma or GED, driver's education, and tobacco and drug cessation counseling. In addition, students are provided with free meals, basic healthcare and clothing allowances. In addition to all of this, each student receives a small periodic allowance that you can spend on whatever else you may need..
If this sounds to good to be true to you, then wait until you hear the best part. Some centers also have many different recreational facilities that can include pool tables, video games, a gym, and possibly even a theater!
The Job Corps Me
When I first arrived at the Clearfield Job Corps Center of August of 2007, I was overwhelmed with the size of the center (One of the largest in the program!) and the sheer beauty of it. I wondered if I could ever stand out in such a gigantic place and if I would actually succeed amidst the excess of recreational activities and rumors of college-esque partying.
I soon found, however, that I molded to the program rather easily. I stood out in classes while I previously feared public speaking. I made lots of friends while I was previously limited to a small circle of friends. Most importantly of all, though. I was doing the work that was expected of me. And I did it well.
For five months, I received nothing but perfect evaluations. For my outstanding efforts, I was awarded my first Gold Card, which is a reward given to students which gives extra priviledges on the already awesome center. Front-of-the-line priviledges, access to a special room in the cafeteria, special trips, and so much more were mine for almost my entire time there.
Holding the Gold Card also allowed me to participate in several community service programs. Ten hours in any one of these programs would be the minimum required to keep my Gold Card after my first evaluation. And I did not find any of the difficulty I foresaw in obtaining these hours. Just one of the programs I participated in would have sufficed to generate the community service hours I required, but I was in several.
In Job Corps, I was a Student Ambassador (Someone who aids new arrivals to the center in their first two days at Job Corps), an officer in my dormitory (I've served in three different roles), and I had an on-campus job cleaning and serving food in the cafeteria. In addition, I obtained my High School Diploma and GED, all while still completing my trade incredibly quickly.
I started Job Corps halfway through August, and was out on the first of February of the next year, totalling less than six months on the center.
Did It Actually Help Me?
There are two answers to this one. On the one hand, as far as hard job skills go, I would say the program was very helpful. To this day, I can type over 50 words per minute when focused. I am familiar with office programs and filing, and I maintain the same level of efficiency in office work that I developed while I was there. However, these hard skills are easy to learn elsewhere. In fact, I have relearned most of them since beginning college to earn a degree in Business Administration.
As far as soft skills, go, I'd say not as much. I am much more comfortable with public speaking, but I have sinced relapsed into my fear of breaking the ice with other people. I am nowhere near as active I was back then, nor am I as social. A lot of this was based on one difference in my life between now and then. Everything I could possibly need was close by and easily accessible. This is nothing like the real world.
Could I have done something differently? Certainly. For starters, I should have taken further advantage of the program. I had an opportunity to take a Driver's Education course that I let pass me by that would have helped me to get a driver's license for free. To this day, I still am not licensed or even skilled enough to drive. I was also offered an opportunity to attend college while I remained on center, which certainly would have helped to keep me motivated. As a result, I am still in school over three years after my separation date, having flunked out of my local community college.
In conclusion, I do believe I could have gotten more out of the program, but I was more concerned with completing it quickly and getting a job, only the first part of which has actually happened. If Job Corps sounds fun to you, my advice to you is this: don't be in a hurry to leave. Get as much as you can out of it. Take advantage of every program, perk, and ammenity. Most importantly of all, stay on center for as long as you can. It is recommended by Job Corps staff that you remain with the program for at least a year. I foolishly ignored this advice and have gotten less out of it than those who were nowhere near as efficient as I was.