For many students in the Torrance Unified School District (TUSD) summer vacation is a time to go to the beach, hang out with friends and get away from the daily routine of classes. But for 30 local students selected to participate in the Torrance Refining Company’s (TORC) Youth Development Program (YDP), this summer meant it was time to go to work.

YDP participants with their supervisors from the City of Torrance and School District during the program’s closing ceremony at the Toyota Meeting Hall.

For the 27th year, the Torrance Refinery hosted a summer employment program aimed at teaching Torrance youth the responsibilities associated with working, instilling the value of hard work, and providing opportunities for local youth to earn a summer paycheck while obtaining school credit. In a unique partnership with the City of Torrance and TUSD, TORC funds the salaries for students who are hired by either the City or the school district for summer internships, as well as the two teachers who facilitate the program. For most of the students in the program, this was their first job experience.

“I was at work by 7:30 a.m. doing things like stocking supplies and preparing maintenance paperwork,” said Kevin Moreno, a senior at Torrance High who worked for Torrance Transit. “The days were long, but I had a great time and learned a lot.”

In addition to providing real world work experience, the program gave students unique insights into how local governments and public school systems operate.

“I had no idea how hard the school district staff works,” said Sascha Smith, a junior at South High who worked for TUSD’s IT department. “It was a real eye opener.”

A TORC employee shares his work history during Career Pathways Day at the Torrance Refinery.

Prior to starting their jobs, the students went through one week of skills training to learn workplace behaviors and career development techniques such as résumé writing, interpersonal skills, and more. In addition, the students enhanced their “soft skills” by attending a weekly class tailored towards practical application of what they were learning.

As part of this training, TORC hosted the students at the Torrance Refinery for a “career pathways” day during which TORC employees shared their journey to their current careers, providing guidance and advice to the teens to help them in their career progression. In addition, refinery employees conducted mock interviews with the students to build their confidence and enhance self-awareness.

“The Refinery has contributed $2 million to fund this outstanding program,” said Barbara Graham, TORC Community Relations Manager, “and we actively participate in it as well to ensure students in our community network with and learn from our employees and refinery leaders. It’s gratifying to partner with the City and school district to support students as they help provide valuable services that benefit the community at large.”

A YDP participant presents her five-year plan to City of Torrance representatives.

The program culminated in a community event where the students presented five-year plans that outlined how they will achieve their post-high school graduation goals. The students gave their presentations to community leaders and their job supervisors.

“I am just so impressed by these students,” remarked Hilda Colclasure, Environmental Quality Officer for the City of Torrance, who served as a supervisor during the program. “They gave great presentations and did an outstanding job while they worked for the City this summer.

School starts in Torrance this week, and these students certainly have had a summer to remember. Well done YDP participants!