Torrance students participating in the 2019 Youth Development Program

Thirty Torrance Unified School District (TUSD) students had anything but the usual summer vacation, missing out on spending time at the beach and hanging out with friends. For these 30 students, summer meant getting a job, thanks to their participation in the Torrance “Youth Development Program” (YDP).

One of Torrance Refinery’s signature programs, YDP is a summer employment program aimed at teaching Torrance youth the responsibilities associated with working, instilling the value of hardwork, and providing opportunities for local youth to earn a paycheck while obtaining school credits. This unique partnership between the City of Torrance, TUSD, and Torrance Refining Company (TORC) is now in its 29th year. TORC funded the salaries for students who were hired by either the City or the school district for summer internships. For most of the students in the program, this was their first experience working to earn a salary.

Refinery volunteers serve as “interviewers” during the Mock Interview Day

Prior to starting their jobs, the students went through one week of skills training to learn workplace behaviors and career development techniques such as resume writing, interpersonal skills, and more. The students also enhanced their “soft skills” with a weekly class tailored towards practical application of what they were learning. For example, students practiced their interviewing skills as refinery employee volunteers conducted mock interviews, offered coaching tips to help enhance students’ self-awareness and confidence in preparation for future interviews.

Refinery volunteer and Safety Advisor Scott Lafayette IV shares career and life lessons to YDP students during Career Pathways Day

TORC also hosted the students for a “career pathways day” that exposed students to different types of careers, providing an opportunity for the students to hear from TORC volunteers on their career development, as well as critical personal and professional lessons learned as they navigated through their career choices.

The program culminated in a community event during which students developed a PowerPoint presentation on their five-year plans outlining how they plan to achieve their post-high school graduation goals. The students presented in front of community leaders and their supervisors. Torrance Mayor Patrick J. Furey, TUSD Superintendent Dr. George Mannon, and Torrance Refinery Manager Steve Steach provided welcoming remarks and congratulated the students for successfully completing the program.

Since inception, the Torrance Refinery has donated more than $2 million to fund this program, and employed over 1,000 students, along with numerous teachers who have been hired to ably facilitate the “Youth Development Program.”