SummerWork Youth Jobs Expo connects Durham youth and employers

March 5, 2018
Emily Herndon from CT Wilson Construction Co. talks with students about the many careers opportunities construction offers. Crane operators can make $70,000 a year.

Hundreds of Durham high school students and young adults exchanged a leisurely Saturday morning March 3 for the chance to learn valuable information about summer jobs, internships and work-based learning opportunities with dozens of Durham employers.

The annual SummerWork Youth Job Expo gave Durham’s young people ages 14 to 24 information and face-to-face contact with representatives from area businesses looking for summer employees and interns.

GSK, Biogen Community Lab, Sky Zone, CT Wilson Construction Co., Art Institute of Durham, Durham Bulls, Durham Parks & Recreation and Water Management departments and the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) at North Carolina Central University were among the employers represented at the event.

Made in Durham work-based learning partners, City of Durham Office of Economic and Workforce Development, NC Works Career Center, Durham Public Schools and Durham Technical Community College, co-hosted the event. It is part of a continuum of work-based learning opportunities under development by Made in Durham partners to expose young people to careers and help them get work experience – key activities for achieving the goal of preparing all Durham youth for careers and building a pipeline of talent that helps regional companies compete and grow.

“We hire a lot of young people and a lot of part-time people, and we like to hire people from the community we’re in,” said Pralhad Khatri, managing partner at Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park on Guess Road in Durham. “This is a great service to us, giving us access to so many young people, and is a great service to the kids, too. Where else can they go to talk to 20 or more employers all in one place?”

Jeremiah Bradford, 19, a high school graduate from Durham, agreed. “I’m looking for a job to help me have a better life,” said Bradford. “It’s cool to have so many people in one place, it makes it much easier to find out about different jobs and how to apply for them.” Bradford was particularly interested in applying for a job with CT Wilson.

Emily Herndon, a marketing representative with CT Wilson Construction, was excited to be able to promote construction trades to young people through the Carolinas Association of General Contractors Build Your Future Campaign.

“People have a misconception about construction jobs being low-wage shoveling jobs,” said Herndon. “But there are many areas with opportunities for free training, advancement and good wages, such as masonry, HVAC, plumbing, crane operators, and so many more, many of which don’t require a college degree.” Crane operators can make up to $70,000 per year, she said.

“These jobs are here now. Durham is growing, and apartments, schools, hospitals and office buildings all need to be built,” Herndon said. CT Wilson also offers an apprenticeship program in partnership with Durham Technical Community College and NCWorks Career Center.

Biogen Community Lab manager Amanda Marvelle said her goal at the expo was to expose attendees to careers in a sector they might not have considered. “Biotech is a rapidly growing field with many opportunities for employment. This program helps kids see that for themselves, and see themselves in those roles,” said Marvelle. The free program allows high school students to conduct hands-on lab projects and meet and interact with scientists and biotech professionals.

The BRITE Program at North Carolina Central University offers similar opportunities through summer camps designed to inspire students and give them a head start on identifying careers in science and biotechnology. N.C. Central recruiter and academic advisor Sherrod Basnight said. There is a lot of competition for jobs and employers want to recruit talented people.

“Identifying talent earlier is important, and these summer camps help do that by encouraging students to explore career opportunities and get hands-on experience in science and biotechnology,” said Basnight.

For more information about connecting jobs to Durham students, contact Made in Durham Employer Engagement Strategist Jacob Dolan at or (919) 215-5844.


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Made in Durham is a community partnership of educators, business, government, youth-serving nonprofits and young people mobilized around a shared vision that all of Durham’s youth will complete high school and a post-secondary credential and begin a rewarding career by the age of 25.
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