City seeks applicants for summer jobs

By Brie Handgraaf

Staff Writer

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From cashiers to camp counselors and lifeguards, the city of Rocky Mount is gearing up for summer programs with an upcoming hiring push.

“I would say for the summer, these employees are our backbone,” said Brian Harrell, program coordinator for the Booker T. Washington Community Center. “We cannot offer the recreation programs and services we do without them, so because of that, we are looking for the best of the best out there.”

Openings for about 150 positions should be posted online in the coming weeks and be open for a period of two-to-four weeks. Once the application period is through, staff will comb through the applicants and bring in candidates for interviews. Within about 30 days, the positions will be hired and the staff will get their timeline for training – for example, all Parks and Recreation employees are required to be CPR and first-aid certified – and for starting employment with some positions starting in May and others starting in June.

“We are looking for staff who are responsible, have a good rapport with children and who can think critically,” Harrell said. “We want someone who can lead because many of these positions are at remote sites throughout the city and having leadership qualities is crucial.”

Previous experience working with children is a plus, but the genuine care and concern for the youth who partake in the program is a must.

“You are not going to get rich doing this,” Harrell said. “You’ve really got to do it because you want to.”

Officials said a tolerance for the heat of the summer and a passion for working outdoors are crucial to a successful hire.

“Summer is hot and can be miserable,” Harrell said. “Sometimes it makes the kids miserable, so you’ve got to be able to deal with that and stay positive.”

Residents looking to apply to become a lifeguard will undergo two swim tests, but those hired will be certified at no-cost to the employee.

“It really can be a win-win, especially for college students,” Harrell said. “They come home, get hired and get certified. All we ask is that they work the summer for us and then they have that certification that could have cost them $100 to $200.”

In addition to staff working with children who are out of school for the summer, the city also hires parks maintenance staff and behind-the-scenes employees working more administrative duties.

“People who want a job in this field feel like they can just go to school for Parks and Recreation, get a degree and get a job, but it doesn’t work that way. They need experience and we can give them that,” Harrell said. “Rather than just putting on a program as part of a class project, we give them the chance to think and be creative and see their work happen. It applies to those looking for careers in other fields as well. If you are interested in nutrition or horticulture, there are spots for that, too.”