I learned I am complex … I am ambitious.
I am smart … I am beautiful and kind.
But most of all … I am me.
This is something I don’t wonder about.
This is the one thing I am sure of.
I am me and no matter where I came from…
I was born to be great.
Created by Simone
Cookie Cart youth participant
The first stop for Cookie Cart teen employees is our Bakery Program — the very foundation of our youth employment training. In this 90-day, hands-on, job-training program, we teach essential employment skills to every teen coming through the Cookie Cart kitchen.
With one adult staff member to twelve youth employees our Bakery Program takes a creative, engaged teaching approach to equip teens with fundamental job skills:
- responsibility to manage their work schedule and themselves with appropriate workplace behavior and language
- collaboration to take direction from managers and work together with peers
- initiative to complete tasks and problem solve
Young people who show responsibility and initiative are promoted to Cart Captain. In this role they take leadership in directing youth employee teams, training new youth employees and managing work assignments. Another leadership opportunity for Cookie Cart youth employees is the Youth Program Committee. The committee provides valuable input on improving program operations. In 2012 the Youth Program Committee was involved in preparing a community presentation about job seeking for youth younger than 15, gathering and presenting youth input on remodel of our North Minneapolis bakery and store front, providing input on marketing and rebranding projects within Cookie Cart and contributing to the development of an agency diversity and inclusion statement.
Customer Service Training
After a few months of learning the ins and outs of the kitchen, it’s then time for our teen employees to learn the concepts and skills required to provide exceptional customer service. At the core of this training, we spend time exploring teens interpersonal communication skills through things like mock interviews and on-the-job skits and role-playing.
Once this class is completed, teens are eligible to begin practicing these new skills at Cookie Cart’s front counter as well as at over 90 different community promotional events, scattered throughout the year.
As teens begin to transition into the mainstream workforce, this advanced work readiness program gives teens the opportunity to meet in small groups and one-on-one with adult staff to identify areas of potential interest for future jobs. We equip teens for the job world outside of the Cookie Cart kitchen by teaching resume and cover letter writing, job search tools and interviewing skills.
Around every corner teens are facing important financial decisions, yet surveys show that many teens lack everyday economic and financial knowledge. For that very reason, Cookie Cart has partnered with local finance institutions to develop a hands-on curriculum that covers the essential building blocks of personal finance. In three sessions, our teen employees receive invaluable life training on:
- budgeting and saving
- checking accounts
- credit and credit cards
National Career Readiness Certificates
At Cookie Cart we are proud to offer our teens the chance to take the National Career Readiness Certification (NCRC). This is a certification issued by ACT showing prospective employers that a teen has the foundational skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. The test measures skills employers believe are essential to job success:
- applied math
- reading for information
- locating information
Earning the NCRC is not easy. Youth employees prepare for the assessment with online curriculum and practice exams for over 10 weeks. Our program staff, with help from community volunteers, provides additional support for our teens through facilitating small group discussions as well as meeting one-to-one with students.
In the past few years, more than 75 of our teens have received a NCRC certificate. We are on schedule for 50 more to join them in 2013.