|MMYC Student Spotlight: Workforce|
When she joined the Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board (WIB), Standard Supplies President Deborah Murphy offered to hire one or two young people for the summer. For one young person, that summer internship turned into much more.
Osvaldo Merino had just graduated from Springbrook High School in 2009 when he landed a Standard Supplies placement through LAYC, the Latin American Youth Center (a youth contractor for the Montgomery County WIB). “You put in your interests,” he explained, “and they try to match you up with something you like. I probably put in something like computers.”
At the end of the summer, with LAYC’s encouragement, Mr. Merino asked if he could continue working part-time at Standard Supplies while beginning his studies at Montgomery College, and was hired for 30 hours a week!
“At first, I was helping with spread sheets to keep track of steel for commercial projects. Then they moved me to the front counter, selling residential steel for contractors who build houses.” Under the direction of the manager for residential steel, Mr. Merino learned how to take orders for “all about the different kinds of steel – columns, angles, channels, I-beams.”
Over time, Mr. Merino earned more responsibility, according to Ms. Murphy: “We now trust him to come in early and open up the Structural Steel Fabrication Division; sometimes he’s alone there for up to an hour. He does really well – he’s picked things up like a magnet. He’s very willing to learn, to follow up on things.” He’s also the only one in the department who speaks Spanish, so he’s able to communicate with the company’s Spanish-speaking customers.
Mr. Merino agreed that “I can pretty much do what is asked of me. I don’t have a problem asking for help. People are very understanding.” He enjoys the flexibility of the job: “I get to do many things. A lot of times I make deliveries. I work with my supervisor taking orders. I go on errands for things. There’s lots of variety.”
He’s also mastered some of the more technical aspects of the business. “One of the things you have to learn is about welding, and how to write down the order and put it in with instructions on how to weld a piece of steel.” He conducts quality inspections on fabricated tools, which requires him to check the measurements to be sure they’re still accurate, squared, and in-line.
It hasn’t all been easy. Mr. Merino has worked hard to understand how to run the steel department. “Many times contractors come in with drawings for houses, and I still don’t fully understand how to read the drawings. But I’m learning that on the job.”
He’s done well enough as a Steel Assistant that he’s already gotten one raise, from $10 to $11 an hour, and is hoping for another soon.
LAYC made a good match when they placed Mr. Merino at Standard Supplies. He “had always thought about economics or running a business. I’m going to major in business or economics. I was interested in those subjects before, but I learned a lot at Standard Supplies about how to run a business and that got me more interested. I want to learn a lot of different things. I may want to learn about automotive stuff. Maybe take Cisco Systems courses, to learn about computer networking. Maybe a four year college later on. From there … I don’t know, just keep learning.”
As for Ms. Murphy, she couldn’t be more pleased. “You bring a young person in and they bring all sorts of new ideas and energy. We’re looking at ways to help him succeed in college. Now that he’s seen what we do and he’s interested in it, he’s going to MC and taking certain courses that will help in his work. We had no intention for him to stay longer than the summer, but we made a place for him.”
LAYC/MMYC at Silver Spring
1320 Fenwick Lane, Suite 600
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
LAYC/MMYC at Langley Park
7411 Riggs Road, Suite 418
Hyattsville, Maryland 20783
LAYC/MMYC at Riverdale (Center for Educational Partnership)
6200 Sheridan Street
Riverdale, Maryland 20737
LAYC/MMYC at Germantown
19401 Crystal Rock Drive