Success story: Teaching teens in Three Lakes how to prepare for the workforce

Lynn2By Lynn Feldman
4-H Youth Development Educator
University of Wisconsin-Extension Oneida County



On June 7, Three Lakes business leaders presented a hands-on workforce readiness workshop for area teens at Demmer Memorial Library. Topics addressed were the brainstorm of those business leaders at a preparation session in May.
One purpose for holding the workshop was to teach teens, ages 14-18, skills needed while working at some of the tourist-oriented businesses in the Three Lakes area during the summer months. Other purposes included showing youth how some of these same skills can be applied to any future career and to enhance their workforce confidence. All of the time spent by the business owners in preparing and leading the workshop was strictly volunteer.

This project had been on my radar for about a year now. Recognizing that the tourist-oriented businesses in Oneida County struggle oftentimes to get experienced help for the summer months, and also recognizing that teens need a venue for learning basic workforce skills, the idea came up to help business owners prepare youth prior to the start of their busy summer months. The workshop concept is a win-win for everyone. Youth develop some basic skills and the business owners are able to educate teens on skills that can have a huge impact on their tourist business.

The workshop covered these subjects with hands-on activities: job attitude, expectations, customer skills, making a first impression, communication, and interviewing. There was time set aside to view resources available to help with resume writing and career searching.

One of the activities focused on the teens developing a list of business owners’ work expectations while the business owners developed a list of expectations from the teen perspective. A mock interview was done and feedback given to the participants as to how they could improve their interviewing style. At the end of the 3 hour time period, a certificate was given to the participants that they can list on future applications and resumes.

Following the workshop, an internet google community was created so that the students can continue to ask questions of the business leaders throughout the summer and beyond. A follow-up evaluation will be completed at the end of summer to determine what the impact was for the students and business owners who hired them.

The Three Lakes High School guidance counselor and social worker are planning to host this same workshop at the school next spring so that entire classes of students can benefit from the social-emotional learning involved.

Based on results at the end of the summer, some plans will be underway for creating this type of workshop for the Minocqua area next spring.

A big thank-you goes out to the enthusiastic volunteer business leaders this year who shared their experience and knowledge with some highly motivated youth.

For more information about job readiness, contact Lynn Feldman at 715-365-2750 or email her at

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