Preparing Youth for Employment

Posted by MCCOY on

For some teenagers, obtaining employment is not a priority. For others, a job is a necessity. Either way, it is important for youth to acquire skills that will help them in the workplace. Many teens lack job experience or simply don’t know how to prepare for employment. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, Employ Indy, the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee and other community partners have identified a solution.

Project Indy, a comprehensive youth jobs program, is the first of its kind in Indianapolis. Launched in 2016, the mission of Project Indy is to connect youth workers ages 14 to 24 with quality employers. Project Indy also aims to provide training to help youth gain the soft skills needed to acquire and maintain employment.

How does Project Indy help in the job search process? The Project Indy program serves as a starting point from which to navigate the working world. ProjectIndy website is designed to be easy and efficient. The section for youth displays a user-friendly questionnaire to help set youth on a career path of interest. Youth can also opt to receive more information regarding Project Indy trainings and education programs. Through these trainings and programs, participants learn important job search skills like how to create resumes and cover letters and how to communicate and problem-solve on the job.

Here are a few helpful hints for youth looking for employment:

  • Dress appropriately. The professional color scheme for interviewing is typically khaki, white, black, gray, navy or red. For youth who wear uniforms to school, this may sound familiar. Professional dress for males includes a clean button-down shirt tucked into slacks or trousers with dress socks and loafers. Belts, ties or bow ties, sweaters and other accessorizing garments are also acceptable, as long as they are appropriate in color and style. For women, clothing options can vary widely. Pantsuits or pant ensembles are acceptable, with button-down blouses being tucked into slacks. Business skirts and dresses should fall at or below the knee, and leggings can be added as long as they are not too sheer. Blazers, jackets, and scarves can add a professional flair. Heels are a nice touch, though it is recommended that heels should not be taller than three- to four-inches. Flats and other professional styles are acceptable options. When the weather is bad, boots are great choices; however, if they are wet or damaged with mud, snow or ice, youth should bring a pair of flats and change into them immediately after coming inside.

  • Practice ahead of time. Research the job to understand the duties that are involved, and study the company to understand what kind of people are hired to meet their goals. For parents of job-seeking youth, consider conducting a mock interview. Parents can write down questions that they think might be asked. Make sure the youth schedules the time for the mock interview, shows up early, dresses appropriately, and answers questions calmly and professionally. Have the youth prepare questions to ask the employer. Parents should provide constructive feedback. This preparation process will help the youth calm his or her nerves and reduce tension on the day of the real interview.

  • Be determined and self-aware. Youth who spend time researching and reviewing feedback from the mock interview will have the knowledge needed to impress employers. It is important to be positive during the job search process. Go into any job interview with a confident mindset. Be conversational and use manners.

  • Volunteer, participate in a sport or join a club. Teens, do you remember when you wanted to be the one to volunteer to pass out papers or help the teacher? Take that same enthusiasm to serve and stand out and put it into action! Youth should find something to do that they will enjoy, whether it is a club, sport, or volunteer position. Keep a record of lessons learned and tasks accomplished. Build a resume from those experiences, and note any life lessons that have made an impact. Often, without thinking about it, we acquire skills and knowledge that can be transferred to a job setting.

This is just the beginning. To put these tips into practice, check out Project Indy to learn about local youth employment opportunities. When youth sign up on the website, MCCOY staff members strongly recommend selecting “yes” to additional training opportunities in order to gain more skills and build employability qualifications. By taking these simple steps, we believe that today’s youth will be on their way to making a difference in the workforce. 


mccoy-logo.jpg The Marion County Commission on Youth, Inc. (MCCOY) is the youth services intermediary for central Indiana whose mission is to champion the positive development of youth through leadership on key issues and support of the youth worker community. MCCOY’s vision is that every young person in central Indiana has opportunities to thrive, learn, engage and contribute.

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