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Teen job fair in Cheyenne offers space for youth to connect with employers

Two teen job seekers and an Air National Guard recruiter give the thumbs-up
David Dudley
Wyoming Public Media
Left to right: South High School student Jacob Poutney, U.S. Air National Guard recruiter Michael Torre, and Alex Lucero struck this pose when asked how they felt about the job fair.

The Cheyenne Workforce Center held a teen job fair earlier this week. It arrived just in the nick of time, as the Cowboy State added nearly 5,000 jobs in the fourth quarter of last year – a 1.7 percent increase over 2022 – and employers are keen to fill those positions.

Representatives from the City of Cheyenne, Laramie County Government, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center and the U.S. Air National Guard, among others, were present. While some teens were seeking summer jobs, others were preparing to enter the workforce. Roughly 50 youths showed up, searching for work.

Dreams and Reality

Jacob Poutney, a sophomore at South High School in Cheyenne, brought his friend Alex Lucero. Both of the young men have big dreams. Poutney said he wants to achieve his through working in construction.

"I want to be able to retire off passive real estate income when I turn 30," said Poutney. "I know it'll take a lot of work, but I'm ready."

Lucero wants to work in the construction industry, too. He's excited to learn more and ply his skills as an electrician.

That bodes well for the young men, as the construction industry showed the most growth in the state’s latest jobs report, adding nearly 1,500 jobs over the year prior.

Lucero's long-term dream is to earn enough money to buy a house for his dad, to repay him for the sacrifices he's made for their family.

"He supported me when we were all homeless," Lucero said. "He supported our whole family when my mom left. My dad has been helping with everything and I just want to pay him all [that] back.

Though Lucero wasn't hired on the spot, he stopped at each employer's table to introduce himself. He signed up for the job alerts. He's on employers' radars. Now, he's waiting for the call.

Every apprentice needs a guide

Jennifer Cruz, youth case manager at the center, acts as a guide for young people who are learning the rigors of the job hunt. She's been doing the work she loves for more than a decade.

Though she was all smiles as job seekers filled the room, she bristled when asked if young people don't want to work.

"That's not true," said Cruz. "I see it every day. I get the phone calls, I get the kids walking in, asking who's hiring. They do want to work. But we have to figure out how to connect employers with kids who don't know how to start that process."

Cruz said she can help with everything from finding resources to job training. She can also help job seekers navigate the algorithms that are increasingly common in electronic job applications.

“I offer one-on-one guidance," Cruz said. "I can teach them how these job applications work. I teach them how companies work, in terms of what they're looking for and how to get those applications in. Because even though these teenagers have never lived in a world without technology, there's still a lot about these online applications that they're not aware of."

Cruz invites anyone who's searching for a job to visit her at the Cheyenne Workforce Center at 5221 Yellowstone Road. She may be reached at: (307) 777-3727 or jennifer.cruz@wyo.gov.

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, supporting state government coverage in the state. Wyoming Public Media and Jackson Hole Community Radio are partnering to cover state issues both on air and online.

David Dudley is an award-winning journalist who has written for The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, High Country News, WyoFile, and the Wyoming Truth, among many others. David was a Guggenheim Crime in America Fellow at John Jay College from 2020-2023. During the past 10 years, David has covered city and state government, business, economics and public safety beats for various publications. He lives in Cheyenne with his family.
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