Earn and Learn Ceremony

August 24, 2015

Earn and Learn Ceremony

Youth presented with certificates of completion


By Steve Waring

Special to the Milwaukee Times


More than 140 Milwaukee youth aged 16-19 received “Earn and Learn” certificates of completion from Mayor Tom Barrett during a lunch and recognition ceremony at the U.S. office of Manpower Group, 100 Manpower Place.

Mayor Barrett’s Summer Youth Internship Program “provides youth with employment and life skills and helps them meet educational, job readiness and career exploration goals,” according to a website maintained by the program. Interns were placed in a City departments such as fire, library, neighborhood services, Office of the Mayor, administration, Common Council, Public Works, Assessor, Health, port, or City Development for eight weeks.

In brief remarks before conferring the certificates, Mayor Barrett grabbed the attention of many in the room when he said that he failed at his first job, noting that even though he did not win his first election attempt, he did not give up after failure.

“Every single adult has failed,” he said. “Most of you will too. The important thing is to get up off the floor and try again.”

Walter Cullin, Jr., served as one of a number of adult team leaders in the Earn and Learn program. He said 21 of the 26 youth assigned to him for the eight-week duration went on to receive certificates of completion, noting that several who didn’t complete the program left for a better opportunity, such as early enrollment in college.

“I serve as a liaison between the employer and the intern,” he said. “Most of my job involved ‘soft skills’, helping the youth adjust to the demands of a professional work environment.”

Cullin graduated from UWM in 2011 and taught high school health education for four years. At the conclusion of the program he will begin a new position as health care coordinator and auditor for Patient Care, a nation-wide, not-for-profit organization which provides advice on access to health care to 1.6 million members, according to information on it website.

Education is important, but experience and technical skills are also needed to land a job, said Jonathan Means, Vice President/General Manager Operations and Process Management for Manpower North America.

Means congratulated those who made it through the program and said the youth were preparing to enter the workforce at a historically good time, provided that they possessed employable skills. “Skills doesn’t necessarily mean a four-year college degree,” he said. “We have all sorts of vocational and technical opportunities right here in Wisconsin.”


Justice Cox, who will be entering the 11th grade at Washington High School of Information Technology, is one example. He said college is not part of his career plans which include owning his own auto body shop where he customizes cars. This summer he said he was assigned to the Department of Public Works where he flushed fire hydrant water mains. He also said he learned how to test the water for purity, an essential step in completing the assignment properly.