Summer Quest: Teen Job Training at Montclair’s YMCA

Teen Job Training at Montclair’s YMCA

Is your teen looking to score his/her first paycheck, but he’s/she’s not quite sure how to secure a job? The Montclair YMCA is rolling out a brand new teen program this summer that’s packed with job readiness skills training and a resume-worthy one-week internship at the Y. Kimberly Griffiths, the Y’s Director of Youth, Teen and Family programs and Summer Quest, explained, “We want to give our teens the skills and confidence to land work and grow in their jobs.” She added, “These kids will be our next workforce so this kind of training is important.”

Sound like an offer your teen might want to participate in? Baristanet Family sat down with Griffiths to get more details.  Here’s what we learned:

BF:  What is the Summer Quest Program?
KG: Summer Quest is a three-week job readiness program for fourteen and fifteen year olds. It will be comprised of two weeks of skills coaching and a one week internship here at the Y. The program is a bit of a crash course, but it will be worthy.

BF: Can you walk me through how the program will be delivered?
KG: The first two weeks will focus on gaining skills in areas like: resume writing, interviewing, dressing for interviews and for the workplace, leadership, social media (including how social media activity can impact entry into the job market), goal setting, networking, strategic decision making, effective communication techniques and workplace etiquette.

One skill area that I think will be especially important is how to handle constructive feedback. We’ve noticed that many of our teens get upset when they’re given feedback. They assume that they did something wrong.  We want to focus on the positive aspect of constructive criticism and let them know that feedback given in the work environment is intended to help them.  It’s really a good thing.

We’ll go on two fun field trips towards the end of weeks one and two. Then, as the second week comes to a close, each child will use what they’ve learned to interview for a one one-week internship at the Y. Many different work areas here will be open to these internships, including our camps, membership program and our marketing and aquatics departments. The only area that the teens cannot apply for is the teen camp; the ages are just too similar. Finally, each child will be assigned a mentor who will help guide them through their internship during the final week of the program.

We also want to give our teens a head start on their resumes. Summer Quest includes Red Cross babysitting and first aid certifications, two skills they can immediately add to their resumes.  And the resume building work we’ll do can be listed under computer skills.

BF: This sounds like a really comprehensive program.
KG: Yes, we want to give the kids as much information as possible. And I want to stress that the kids won’t just be sitting behind desks all day while we talk to them.  It will have a down-home and cozy feel and it will be interactive.

We’re going to tape mock interviews with each child so they can watch themselves and critique their own performance. For business communications, we’ll practice how to look someone in the eyes, give a firm handshake and exude confident body language. We’re also excited to offer an entrepreneurship session inspired by the show Shark Tank where the kids will complete a fun assignment, maybe an art project, and then we’ll guide them through how to present and ultimately sell their idea or product. We want the kids to have several ‘aha moments’ and come out of the program feeling empowered.

BF: A big part of landing a job is deciding which job you want. Will you be offering any kind of guidance around these decisions?
KG: Yes, we realize that some kids won’t be sure which types of jobs to focus on.  And other kids might not be interested in the jobs that utilize their strongest skill sets.  We’ll probably offer an intake assessment at the beginning of the program. And we’ll discuss each child’s options and help them figure out what will work best for them.  Even though this is a group program with peer engagement, we plan to individualize as much as we can.

BF: What was the inspiration for this program?
KG: There were a few reasons we decided to create Summer Quest. First, we noticed that a lot of kids that have grown up with our Y programs were asking for jobs or to volunteer here, yet they had trouble filling out the applications. Others did not have any job skills to write down on their resumes.  It wasn’t going well and we saw an opportunity to help.

Also, there’s a lot of competition with adults applying for second and third jobs. We felt this program would give kids a leg to stand on and make it so they weren’t going into job interviews so blindly.

And finally, a lot of kids are responsible for purchasing some of their own stuff. We wanted to help empower these teens.  We hope to give them the tools they need to feel confident enough to go out and secure work.

BF: Have you ever offered a program like this at the Y?
KG: Yes, we’ve offered a Counselor in Training (CIT) program, but this will be much broader and more comprehensive.  This program will focus on all the basics of job readiness.  These skills can be used to get a job as a camp counselor, but they are not exclusive to that kind of work.

BF: How and when can families register their kids?
KG: Registration will open on March 28 at 8:00am at the YMCA of Montclair at 25 Park Street.  You can also register online.

Program Details:
Dates: There will be two sessions, June 29 – July 17 & July 27 – August 14
Hours:  8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Location: YMCA of Montclair at 25 Park Street
Cost: $495

For more information: visit or contact Kimberly at or 973-415-6102.



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