Job matchmakers here to help
Big Sky Youth Corps Program Returns for Summer
If you are a business in Big Sky, odds are you are looking for employees for the summer. If you are a Big Sky or visiting student out of school for the summer, odds are you are weighing your options of where to work, how much to work and possibly even if you should get a job. The good news for both parties is that the Big Sky Youth Corps, co-directed by Samantha Suazo and Carly Wilson this summer, is here to help.
Suazo explains, “Our job is to match students with businesses and specifically provide students with helpful learning experiences that will serve them in the future while being paid for the work that they do.” Wilson, who had an internship with BSYC last year, appreciated the organization’s flexibility in working with her.“I reached out to Big Sky Youth Corps because I had a crazy busy summer and I didn't know if another job could fit in,” she says, “but they reassured me that it was possible and they introduced me to the Lone Peak Lookout internship.”
Ace Beattie, who founded BSYC with Ava King last year in response to the pandemic, says that their original purpose is still important, even as Montanans return to normal. “Our mission was to find engaging employment that also looks good on resumes and gives equal opportunity to all high school students during a time when everyone’s plans were being cancelled.”
Last year, with many businesses under stress, all interns were paid through BSYC. “We applied for grants at community organizations and were successful, especially with the Covid Relief Fund.” says Beattie. This year, most businesses have the money to pay, and if they are a nonprofit and can’t afford the help, funds generously provided by the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation are available to help bridge the gap and make sure all interns are paid for their work--and get valuable experience.
“If you've never had a job you learn a lot and it really helps with your college application,” says Wilson. BSYC advisor Barbara Rowley agrees: “This is an opportunity for kids who haven't had a lot of diversity in their resume to try out a lot of things at once with multiple part-time jobs; we could for instance put somebody working at the veterinary hospital and working as a barista and writing for the newspaper.” Multiple internships are available to students throughout the summer and are meant to work with summer plans.
Suazo explains that she and Wilson are there to make the matches and see that they are successful for all involved, “We have a midsummer evaluation where we ask both the student and the business what we can do to make the job better. We also have an end-of-summer interview as well.” The goal, says Suazo, is to make sure the employer is a mentor and “to help the kids by letting them know what they can do better in their performance in the job or how they can improve upon their skills.” Overall, the program focuses on building bonds between employers and students to help them gain experience and gain good recommendations.
Wilson concludes by saying, “There are so many skills that you gain from having a job for the first time and that's one of the reasons that we encourage kids to join this program or just get a job around town because businesses are in need and students are usually here.”
Suazo and Wilson have placed about ten students so far, and anticipate placing more as the summer goes on. They encourage local and visiting students who are 14 years old through college to reach out to them to discuss a placement. “If kids already have a job that they want to pursue but they would also like some experience in a different work field, we are open to offering them that possibility and finding the best match for them.”