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Summer hire program offers students multiple benefits

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Austin M. May
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing public affairs
Patrons of the post office here may have noticed the people handing over their packages lately are a bit younger than the Airmen who normally handle the task.

The Air Force hasn't lowered its recruiting age - they're summer hires.

The summer hire program allows for dependents of military members and U.S. government civilian employees here on orders to work during the summer school break. They must be full-time students in good standing with their school between the ages of 14 and 22. Home-schooled students are also eligible for the program.

According to Andrew Plater, 100th Force Support Squadron human resources specialist, the students can work for any organization on base, though this year they're mainly within the 100th Mission Support Group in places like the library, bowling alley, Bob Hope Community Center and post office.

Plater, who serves as the summer hire program coordinator, said the summer hires usually do clerical or labor tasks such as customer service, data input, answering phones and filing. No experience or formal qualifications are necessary, but students can request to be placed in certain jobs if they have prior experience or specific career paths in mind. They cannot, however, work in the direct supervisory chain of their parent.

The program runs from July 16 to Aug. 10, and students work a full 40 hours each week, earning a fixed $5.50 an hour. For some though, the program is about more than just money.

"The program exists to enable students to gain work experience and also earn some money," Plater said. "Students help the organizations by performing duties that cannot be performed by military or civilian staff during high (permanent change of station) season. Students gain an understanding of the world of work."

One such student is 14-year-old Kaylee Updegrave, an honors student and daughter of Tech. Sergeant Matthew Updegrave and his wife Dawn. She's been working in the 100th Air Refueling Wing historian office for nearly a month.

Kaylee, who will begin her freshman year of high school a few weeks after the program ends, spends her days helping Mark Howell, 100th ARW historian, organize the base's historical archives and prepare for an upcoming inspection. Although she was randomly selected for the position, she said she'll leave the program with a stronger interest in history.

Howell said he didn't have to teach the soon-to-be 9th grader much about work, and that she's been an enormous asset since starting the job.

Kaylee has been a force multiplier, completing important tasks that can be difficult to complete in a one-person office, he said. Howell added Kaylee has been exposed to work, history and heritage during the few weeks she's been a part of the historian team.

"That's really the goal here," Howell said. "For them to come out of this with a great experience, plus we get the benefit of them helping us work."

For Kaylee, who was born and raised mostly in Dover, Delaware, there was at least one more benefit: money.

"When you get the money, you feel satisfied that you put your hard work into something and it paid off," she said.

Dawn Updegrave said she thinks her daughter's experience will benefit her long after she returns to school Aug. 27.

"She's getting a taste of what it's like in the real world," said Updegrave, who also stated she's certain the skills Kaylee will learn through the summer program will assist her in not only high school, but college and the work force as well.

Kaylee's mother said the summer hire program is definitely something she'd recommend to parents of children eligible to participate in it.

"It gives them something to do, a sense of responsibility and maturity," she said. "They have to get up early in the morning, dress properly and they learn office etiquette."

No matter who they are or what benefits they take away from their involvement in the summer hire program, all those affected by it seem to agree on one point, which Howell emphatically expressed.

"Having a program like this is invaluable."