Nashville Arranges Thousands Of Summer Jobs For Teens, But Will They Take Them?

Mar 23, 2017

One of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s ambitious goals has been to find summer jobs for 10,000 teens and young adults. She’s been recruiting employers to offer positions, and now her administration is trying to find youth to fill them.

Between Metro and private companies, roughly 7,500 openings are identified. As of this week, just more than 2,000 young people have put resumes into the city’s new online portal, known as Opportunity Now.

Dominique Polk took that step. The student at Nashville State Community College said she likes that the system points her to work near her home. But she wouldn’t be surprised if students are slow to sign up.

“They’re kind of worried about other things,” Polk said. “So it’s like, yes this gives you the opportunity to have a job … but then, you have the mindset that you have to take care of mom, or you have to do this [other responsibility].”

Others, like Hillwood sophomore Maya Jennings found frustration trying to enroll during a job fair this week at Marathon Music Works, a concert venue. Working from a provided laptop, she found she had to redo what she started at home.

“It’s kind of difficult for me, because it’s not — I don’t know — there’s something wrong with it,” she began, before trailing off. Her mom laughed and Jennings let out an exasperated, “ugh!”

The sophomore student said she is interested in working at Nashville Shores, which happened to have a booth at the fair, and where there are 500 summer openings. So she was able to make contact face to face.

(Separately, Polk, the college student, said she would have preferred to upload her existing resume to the Opportunity Now portal, but instead had to copy-and-paste the relevant lines into the form.)

Thus far, there’s no panic about enrollment from Mayor Megan Barry.

“A lot of kids, often times, are a little bit of a procrastinator, so as summer becomes more on the horizon, I think we’ll see those numbers of kids who are looking for summer employment go way up,” Barry said.

The mayor is looking to schools, faith groups and word-of-mouth to lead young people to the job openings.