By Staff Sgt. David Bruce, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Public Affairs
There are some new faces at Camp Atterbury; 13 to be precise. These new additions to the installation’s workforce are interns from the Atterbury Job Corps. Established in 1965, Job Corp is an education and career technical training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that helps young people ages 16 through 24 improve the quality of their lives through career technical and academic training.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Knight, of Greenwood, Ind., executive officer at Camp Atterbury, said that the practice of having interns for Job Corps predated his tenure as executive officer.
“This started long before I got here,” said Knight. “It was a program from previous commanders and the directors of the Job Corps. In years past, there wasn’t a lot of effort put into it; it was a gentleman’s agreement between the Camp and Job Corps to bring interns to gain some type of work experience. There wasn’t any real structure to it. Over the years, it continued and dropped off and come back.”
Knight said that Col. Ivan Denton, the garrison commander at Camp Atterbury, focus was on community relations and is putting more initiative into the program.
“Right now we are in the first phase of our revised Job Corps program. We are looking at having close to 30 interns, but currently we have 13. That’s due to a number of reasons based off of evaluations of the interns, where they are at in the program and the needs of the installation. We do not want to push the interns too strong or too fast,” said Knight.
Prior to being placed into a directorate, the prospective intern had to interview for the position and there are other criteria that must be met, said Knight.
Knight said the program is a 6-week rotation. Part of the interview process is to set a baseline of strengths and weaknesses for the intern, so the intern can see where they are at. They will receive an exit interview at the end of their six weeks to see if there is a measurement of improvement.
Knight said feedback from future employers of the interns will be provided by Job Corps so the program can continually be fine tuned to meet the needs of the interns.
“We want to set the interns up for success in the workforce. By leading these youngsters in the right way, it benefits them, the community, state and country in the long term because we are invested into our kids,” said Knight.
Knight said the directorates employing interns are the Directorate of Public Works, Directorate of Logistics, the Directorate of Emergency Management and the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security with some interns placed with Medical, Human Resources and other smaller directorates.
The renewed emphasis in the program came from changes in the leadership of both organizations, said Jeff Byrd, of Indianapolis, Atterbury Job Corps Business and Communication Director.
“That changed with the new director team at Job Corps,” said Byrd. “Our new Center Director, Redford Salmon, priorities was to review and reestablish contact with Camp Atterbury. The leadership had changed at Camp Atterbury and at our center, so we wanted to get back in contact.”
Meetings were held between Job Corps and Camp Atterbury leadership to discuss where the program was at that point in time and to talk about what could be done to make it better for both parties, said Byrd.
“Then, when we attended the Welcome Center’s ribbon cutting, we noticed that on their timeline display, they included the Atterbury Job Corps. That gave us more incentive to strengthen that bond with Camp Atterbury,” said Byrd.
Byrd said the leadership at Camp Atterbury was invited to a Community Resource Council Meeting as well as the public, businesses and local community organizations into the centre to talk about what the program has to offer to them and students. Through that, the leadership at Camp Atterbury saw new ways they can offer work based learning, internships, for the students beyond what had already been established. Prior to those meetings there existed four or five active internships going at that time. After that Community Resource Council meeting it was determined that 30 new internships would be offered over the next six months.
“This is something that we are very thankful for, that Camp Atterbury would make that commitment to our program and assist our students. There is a lot we can do in the classroom, as far as training them and giving them the skills they need, but until they get hands-on, real life experience, interacting with other people, training is not going to be complete. It helps us out to give them a better experience and training that they would not be able to get without that partnership.
According to Nichole Holland, of Columbus, Ind., work-based learning director at Atterbury Job Corps, more interns beyond the 13 will be placed in the spring into skilled trade positions.
“One of the reason we haven’t utilized all the slots yet is due to the time of year. We have a lot of skilled trade students. Around March those students can be placed to help build sidewalks, digging ditches, help build buildings. Right now that’s just not a feasible option.
According to Holland the feedback thus far has been positive from the interns.
“So far the students love it,” said Holland. “Once students learn of the opportunities that go beyond the basic program. That is the purpose of work based learning programs; giving the student a skill beyond what is typically offered. It can give the students a specialized skill set that other applicants may not have, increasing their marketability to employers. It gives them an edge.”