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City-Parish youth employment program sees overwhelming response

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BATON ROUGE - A parish-wide program in East Baton Rouge is seeing an overwhelming response. Offering the largest amount of jobs this year, the Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program will have to turn hundreds of applicants away.

This is the sixth year students have had a chance to become city-parish employees.

“Maybe at HR, or in our [Department of Public Works], or even our IT department,” said Makesha Judson, the city parish Chief Service Officer.

"I'd like to do the child care part,” said Scotlandville Magnet High student Hailey Smith. “I really like working with kids."

Smith is one of more than 500 applicants who have already applied for the program. Many are hoping to gain experience, references for the future and, of course, some cash.

“I’d put it towards [cheerleading] and help my mother pay for it,” Smith said.

“He likes tennis shoes, so we're going to put him to work and he's going to purchase his own tennis shoes this year,” said Katriece Johnson of her 17-year-old son. “He could have some responsibility, teach him some structure and accountability.”

But the problem is, not every applicant will be employed.

"It's definitely going to be difficult,” Judson said.

Only 250 hopefuls will be chosen, which means if application submissions continue like they are, the majority of the students won't get the job.

“We look at the quality of the application and also where the students are throughout their parish,” said Judson. “We have 12 council districts, so we really make sure we have a wide range of representation from across the city-parish and not just in one area.”

The application deadline is Wednesday at 5 p.m. The hourly wage depends on the applicants age, ranging from $8 to $11 an hour.

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