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How to Find a Job
How to Find an Internship
How to Write a Resume
Sample Resume
How to Fill Out an Application
Common Interview Questions
Other Important Tips for Acing a Job Interview

Job Opportunities for Youth
Job Information Centers
Job Readiness and Placement Programs
Job Training Programs

The Armed Forces
Starting Your Own Business
Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities
Job Training for Ex-offenders and Drug Abusers
Job Corps
Free Clothes for Job Interviews
Job Hunting Terms You Need to Know
Taking and Passing a Drug Test
Essential Identification Documents

Working Papers: What They Are and How to Get Them
What to Do If You Do Not Have Your Documents


How to Find a Job

Sharif Berkeley

It's one of those days when you have no money and each hour seems to melt away with you sitting on the couch. You see your friend who's just cashed his check from work. He's showing off because his pockets are full and you're feeling bad because you've only got lint in your pockets. You finally say to yourself, "I need a job!" But then you think to yourself, "How do I go about looking for one?"

Looking for a job can be one of the most tedious and frustrating events of life, especially for young people without any experience. But if you look in the right places and spread yourself around, a job is sure to come your way.

There are many places where jobs are available. Certain times of the year provide open doors for you when looking for a job, because different businesses need more help during the holiday or seasonal rush, such as during Christmas, Mother's Day, the summer, etc.
The key is to act quickly and not put the job search off until later. You should usually look for jobs a month to two months before the holidays come around. This will better your chances of being the one picked for a job interview.

Another way of finding a job is by networking. Networking means talking to people who may know of job openings. (Many jobs aren't listed in the newspaper or on the Internet, but are passed on by word of mouth.) You have to get over not wanting to ask people for favors. Most people are happy to help, if they think there’s a position that might be right for you. You can ask someone who knows people in high places or someone who knows a lot of other people who are working. Even better, you can ask someone who is already employed if their boss or employer has any openings. If that person is a good friend of yours, she can put in a good word for you which will better your chances.

If a job doesn’t come to you this way, there are many places where you can look for job offers. These days, the first place, and the most common, is on the Internet. See LINKS for the addresses of some websites where you can look. Also, visit the websites of companies or organizations you are interested in and check under "employment opportunities." In any newspaper you can also find a classified section with a list of job openings. Most of the time the jobs listed in the classifieds don't apply to younger people, but at least it's a start. You never know, you may find something, every now and then, to your liking. And some websites let you search according to how much education you have, which makes it easier to narrow down which employers are likely to hire you.

The second thing you might want to do is actually go out on foot and fill out applications at different places. But before you even set out, you must be dressed appropriately so you can present yourself in a serious manner. Well-groomed hair, a white shirt, tie, and slacks with dress shoes are the standard for guys; a blouse or nice sweater with a skirt or a nice pair of pants for ladies. Remember, the way you present yourself tells the employer a lot about you, and the first impression should be the best impression when you meet a potential employer.

Having a resume (a list of personal information and your school and work experience) wouldn't hurt either because it separates you from the other applicants who don't have one. See How to Write a Resume for some tips on putting yours together. Note: places like McDonald's and other fast food restaurants don't require resumes.

On a job application you must fill out all the information correctly and neatly, because if you don't they will look at your application and say, "We'll call you in a couple of weeks," and then throw it in file 13 (the trash). See How to Fill Out an Application for some more tips. If you fill out an application and they don't call you back in the time they say they will, give them a call to let them know that you are really interested in working there. They may actually give you an interview date.

The way I got my job was by going out on foot, filling out applications, and handing in typed resumes in as many places as I could go. I mainly went to department stores, electronic stores (like The Wiz), and a lot of other large stores that I knew. (Larger stores tend to hire more, and you won't feel embarrassed asking if they're hiring because there are many other people besides yourself in the office filling out applications.)

A lot places I went to said, "No, we're not hiring," but some said, "Come back in a couple of weeks." Hearing the "no's" gave me a feeling of rejection, but I couldn't give up because if I did, it's back to Square One (five lint balls and a rubberband).

After a day of job hunting I would go home and anticipate a call from an employer for a job interview. Most of them didn't call, like I predicted, but I got one call to come in for an interview at Macy's. When I got there I was happy to see that my interviewer was the same person who had taken my application and resume. First I had to fill out another application, then answer questions on a computer, and finally have a person-to-person interview. The first two were easy, but when I had to go for the interview I was nervous as hell.

They called me in. Then the employer asked me the big question, "Tell me, why do you want to work at Macy's?"

I said, "Because I would like the experience of a real working environment, and the jobs that I have had before weren't the type that made me feel like I was part of a real workforce. Macy's is the place where I feel that I can flex my abilities."

He asked me how much I would prefer to make an hour. I told him, "Between $5 to $7 an hour." A statement like this gives you a better chance for a higher wage than you expected. Don't limit yourself to just one number, and ask for a reasonable amount of money. This will give the employer some numbers to play with.

(Another important tip is to make your answers to the questions sound intelligent and well thought out. One-word answers and slang are not the way to go.)

After the second question, the employer took another look at my resume, nodded his head in approval, stuck out his hand, and said, "Welcome aboard." I was surprised that he had only asked me two questions (most interviewers have many more questions). But as I said before, your resume can speak for you and save you from being asked 99 questions.

At this moment the joy I felt was immeasurable. Looking for and getting a job is one of the most tedious events life has to offer. But if you keep at it, have a positive attitude, and present yourself well, an opportunity will come your way because there's one most important thing to remember-you have to look for the job, the job isn't going to look for you.

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How To Find an Internship

Charlene Carter

Internships are short-term jobs that usually last about two or three months, and are geared towards helping young people learn about a specific career or business. Some internships are paid, but the bad news is many are not. Still, internships can give you the chance to see what your chosen profession will really be like. For instance, if you are interested in the advertising business, you might be an intern at an advertising agency, where you would see firsthand how the business works and what types of jobs you might be interested in. They can also help you gain experience to eventually get a full-time paying job in your area of interest.

Internships are mainly for young people, so it's good to take advantage of them while you're young. At some internships, you're matched with a mentor who can help provide you with some support and guidance. When you are looking for an internship, here are some handy tips that can help you land one that's right for you:

Step #1: Start Early. Don't wait until the end of the school year to apply for a summer internship. Some summer internship programs start hiring as soon as November for the following summer.

Step #2: Work with your counselor. Youths in foster care have many counselors. There is the school counselor, the social worker, the educational vocational counselor, the independent living coordinator, and the child care worker. Oftentimes when our personal resources are used up, someone else has resources that we would be interested in. So it is important to talk with the adults in your life to see if they know of opportunities you might be interested in.

Step #3: Research. Talking to adults you know is the best start, but you can also branch out: Ask librarians where you can look for internships and find out about youth employment services in your area. You can also go to one of the Job Information Centers or Job Readiness and Placement Programs listed on this website and ask them what information they have about internships in your field of interest.

Step #4: Find out which internships are paid or unpaid, what qualifications you need, what the application procedure is, and what your duties and responsibilities will be. These facts will help you decide if the internship is right for you.

Step #5: Apply for the internship. You may need a lot of material for this: school transcripts, phone numbers of reference people who can talk about how you are as a worker, an application and a resume. Make sure you meet the deadline.

Step #6: Interview. Many internships require you to interview for the job. For your interview, be on time. Dress neatly. Don't chew gum. Look the person who's interviewing you in the eye. If you have questions about the internship, now is the time to ask them.

Step #7: Start your internship. Learn as much as you can!

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How to Write a Resume

Sharif Berkeley

Do you want to increase your chances of getting a job or get a better job? A good resume may be the first step to the job or career you want.

A resume is a document that gives the employer an shapshot of your background, skills, and education before he even lays eyes on you. Your resume must show why you are qualified for the job offered.

If you’ve never worked before, you can still make a resume. You may have done volunteer work, or maybe you have to come home every day after school and prepare dinner. Include any activities you’re involved in because they show responsibility too. If you haven’t worked in a while or you’ve been locked up, write down what you have been doing that’s been positive. If you took a course while in prison or you helped raise a child, write that down. Everyone has some accomplishments to show, and this is where you want to show them.

Here's how a resume can be set up:

Personal Info:
List your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (make sure your e-mail address is appropriate!) This information is always centered on the top of your resume.

Job Objective:
This describes the job you're applying for. If you are applying for more than one job, you should have multiple copies of your resume, and the job objective can be changed. For example, you should have a different job objective when you're applying for a position as a nurse's aide than when you're applying for a clerical position.

Tell the employer about your educational background. Your most recent school goes first and then you continue back through your educational history (i.e. college, high school, junior high school). Elementary school and kindergarten are not necessary. Your graduation dates should also be included (if you haven't left school yet, put the date you will be graduating).

Employment History:
If you've had a job before or training in a certain field, it goes here. Briefly describe what the job involved and the skills you learned. Your most recent job goes first, then continue back through your job history with dates included.

This section allows you to show off a little. Include achievements on the job, school awards, prizes, and other things that show that you're worth your weight in gold.

Give the employer a positive description of your personality. Emphasize your enthusiasm and the traits you think will be helpful in a working environment (for example, leadership, motivation, responsibility, etc.).

People who will recommend you for a job, such as past employers (who you are on good terms with), mentors, friends who work at the place you're applying to, etc.

After all of this, be sure to check your resume. Is it neatly typed? Are there any spelling errors? Is it organized in a way that catches someone's eye?

This kind of check is crucial to any resume, because if an employer sees misspelled words, white-out, or improper punctuation, your resume could be the victim of File 13. In other words, the garbage file.

You should also pay attention to style. You don't want to bore the employer to death. So make your sentences sound vibrant and intelligent. Give the employer the impression that you are the one for the job.

Every so often a resume must be updated according to your most recent achievements, further educational study, or a change of jobs. This can be easily done by just adding to your resume. (Remember that your most recent information goes first!)

It may take many drafts to finally turn out a great resume. There are books that can give you much more information about resumes in your local library and bookstores. Also, you can ask someone who has a career to help you write and check your resume.

Note that a resume will not guarantee you a job. It is just the first step to getting an interview with the employer and making that good first impression before you actually step into the office. With the proper content and structure, a resume can send you full speed ahead into the working world.

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Sample individual resume

Jasmine Doe
111 First Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Position as a waitress or cashier

Brooklyn Central High School
High school diploma expected 6/09

Madison Middle School

5/00 - 9/01--Cashier and waitress at Blue Lobster (part-time)
            Worked dinner hours. Took orders, delivered food, and worked cash register.

9/01-12/01--Secretary at Indigo Industries (part-time)
            Answered phones, filed, and typed memos. Learned basics of Microsoft Word and Outlook.

            Regular babysitting for toddlers and children.
• Employee of the month for two consecutive months at Blue Lobster
• Member of HS student government (11th grade)

• Highly motivated, cooperative, willing to learn
• Red Cross volunteer; certified in CPR
• Speak Spanish
• Know how to use the Internet and Microsoft Word

Mr. Greencrab (515)-EAT-FOOD
Blue Lobster, (515)-U-BE-BLUE
John Jones (Youth Pastor), 515-TEENFUN


Read Charlene's story about getting started in fast food.

More references available upon request.



How to Fill Out an Application

When you apply for a job, you will usually be asked to fill out an application.

Before you go: If you are planning on filling out an application while you are at the place of business, you should be sure that you have all the information you’ll need with you. This includes:

    • Your social security number
    • The names and addresses of any past employers, the dates when you worked for them, your position or title, your responsibilities, your salary, and your reason for leaving
    • The name, complete address, and phone number of your high school and junior high school (and college, if any)
    • A list of any awards you've received, publications you've written for, organizations you belong to
    • The name, address, and office number of people who can give you a recommendation

Picking it up: When you pick up or drop off an application, be prepared for an interview.  You never know. They may be in a hurry to hire someone. Also, dress appropriately, because even though you may not get an interview, the secretary or person who takes the application may be asked by the interviewer what s/he thought of you.

Ink/Type: Use blue or black ink or type the application.  No funky colors.

Spelling: This is very important, if you don’t know how to spell a word use a different word in its place.

Complete it: Don’t leave any blanks. If a question does not apply to you put "N/A," for "not available".

Position applied for: Avoid the word “anything”. Put a specific job down to show direction.

Salary expected: Don’t put $7.00 an hour, they may be willing to offer you $8.00 and you’ll sell yourself short. Also, don’t put too high an amount down, they may not interview you because you asked for too much. The word “negotiable” is good.

College or University: If you are planning on going to college, when you get to the education area of the application write “Plan to attend XYZ College”. This shows that you have direction or goals in your life.

Employers: Always list the most recent employer first.

May we contact your current employer? If you are currently employed and you are not worried that they may fire you because you are interviewing somewhere else, tell your current employer that you are interviewing and that another employer may be contacting him/her for a reference.

What do you like least in your work? Be careful with this question. A good answer could be: “I don’t like when I run out of things to do.” A bad answer would be: “I am not a morning person, and I hate getting up early.”

What are your career/long range goals? You should be concise and to the point on the application; you can elaborate in the interview.

Binding document: Once you fill out this application it is a binding document and any misinformation on it could be grounds for termination or dismissal. Be honest!

Special skills: Examples: typing speed, office skills, computer skills (like "proficient in Microsoft Word & Excel"), bilingual.

List any friends or relatives working for us: This is very important.

References: Prepare anyone you may use as a reference. Let them know that they may be receiving a phone call. Most employers will call references by phone, but they may request a written evaluation by mail. Many employers can only say the dates you worked for them and whether they would re-hire you. People who you have not worked for that might make a good reference would be: teachers, club leaders, church leaders, organizations where you have volunteered your time.

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Common Interview Questions

Danielle Wilson

When I had an interview at the Gap, it made me so nervous that I couldn't even talk right.

The first question they asked was, "Why do you want to work for the Gap?" Your mind is telling you to say: "For the money, dummy." But you don't want to say that because you don't want to make yourself sound greedy or selfish, even if it's the truth.

I said, "Because I'm familiar with what the company does, which is sell clothes." (Doesn't the interview sound good so far?)

Yes, but not for long because then they asked me: "What can you bring to this company?"

I don't know, maybe more customers?

My heart stopped and dropped all the way to the floor. By the time I got ready to pick it up, I heard them say, "If we don't contact you in 24 hours, you didn't get the job."

Read how Danielle got her first job.  

I don't know about any of you, but to me that question is hard to answer. I got the impression that the manager wanted me to say a certain thing. Sort of, like, there's one right answer and if I get it wrong, I've failed. But if I was asked that question now, I would say, "I'm a hard worker and a very reliable person, and with those kinds of qualities I cannot only do a good job, but I can influence other employees to do so too."

Because job interviews are high-stress situations for many of us, it’s important to imagine what questions an employer might ask you, and practice saying your answers out loud before you go. That way you’ll be more prepared when questions come your way.

Practicing also gives you a chance to really think about what you do have to offer. What are your strongest qualities? How might those qualities help the business that you’re applying to work at? What experiences have you had in the past that really showed what you are capable of doing? How can you describe those experiences so that an employer can imagine you in action.

Below are some questions that interviewers commonly ask. Try answering them, and coming up with your own questions too.

“Tell me about yourself.”

Make a short, organized statement of your education and professional achievements and goals.  Then, briefly describe your qualifications for the job and the contributions you could make to the organization.

“Why do you want to work here?” or “What about our company interests you?” 

Few questions are more important than these, so it is important to answer them clearly and with enthusiasm.  Show the interviewer your interest in the company.  Share what you learned about the job, the company and the industry through your own research.  Talk about how your professional skills will benefit the company.  Unless you work in sales, your answer should never be simply: “money.”  The interviewer will wonder if you really care about the job.

“Why did you leave your last job?”

The interviewer may want to know if you had any problems on your last job.  If you did not have any problems, simply give a reason, such as: relocated away from job: company went out of business; laid off; temporary job; no possibility of advancement; wanted a job better suited to your skills.

“What are your best skills?”

If you have sufficiently researched the organization, you should be able to imagine what skills the company values.  List them, and then give examples where you have demonstrated these skills.

“What is your major weakness?”

Be positive; turn a weakness into a strength.  For example, you might say: “I often worry too much over my work.  Sometimes I work late to make sure the job is done well.”

“Do you prefer to work by yourself or with others?”

The ideal answer is "I am flexible."  However, be honest.  Give examples describing how you have worked in both situations.

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Other Important Tips for Acing a Job Interview

Xavier Reyes

Okay, picture this—you just got your first job interview, and all of a sudden a whole bunch of questions start popping into your mind:

"What do I say?"

"What should I wear?"

"What papers should I bring?"

"What time is the best time to be there?"

Here are a few important things to remember:

1) Before you go on the interview, make sure that you have your resume and all the documents you need (click here).

2) Show up at least ten minutes early for your interview to show that you are a responsible person. (If you run into subway trouble and are going to be late, call the interviewer to let him/her know.)

3) Turn your cell phone off. Leave your friends outside.

4) Don't greet the interviewer by saying, "Whuz up, holmes? Youz chilling?" Instead, say, "Hello, how are you doing?"

5) Please, please don't walk into the interviewer's office with a pair of Karl Kani pants hanging off your butt, a shirt that could fit someone twice your size, and a pair of Timberlands. I don't think the interviewer will hire someone who looks like they're getting ready to go to a party.

All clothes must be clean and pressed. Shirts should be button-down. Blouses should be long enough to tuck into your pants/skirt. You should not show cleavage. A skirt should hit the top of your knee or lower.

6) Try to look the interviewer in the eyes when you are talking and listening to him/her. If you're looking at your clothes while you're answering a question, it will seem like you don't know how to focus your mind on one thing.

7) Listen carefully to what the interviewer is saying and ask questions about the job. (You might want to find out some information about the company or store before you go on the interview.) Asking questions shows that you are really enthusiastic about the job. These are some good questions to ask:

    • What will I do on the job?
    • What is a typical day like?
    • How much is the pay?
    • What are the hours?
    • Is there room for advancement?

8) Always, always shake the hand of the interviewer at the beginning and the end of the interview. It shows respect. After the interview, ask for the interviewer's business card. As soon as you get home, write a thank you letter to the interviewer. If you haven't heard from the interviewer in three or four days, call him/her and see what's up with the job!

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Job Opportunities
for Youth

New York City Department of Youth and
Community Development (DYCD)
Jobs and Internships

The DYCD runs the Summer Youth Employment Program
(1-800-246-4646) and also offers internships and longer-term job
training and placement for young people.

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Job Information Centers


There are many different ways to find a job. One thing you can do is let everyone know that you’re looking for one. This includes your caseworker, mentors, teachers, family and friends. Sometimes going through people you know is the best way to find a job. Plus, your agency may have a job specialist, or your independent living coordinator may know about how to find a job. Make sure you talk to these people first.

You also want to think about whether you want a job right now, or whether you’d rather go into a job-training program. If you are offered a job, you can earn money right away. If you’re in a job-training program, you’re learning the skills you’ll need to get a job, and that might lead you to a career that you’ll want for a long time if not for life.

Don’t just sit back and wait for offers to fall into your lap. Get out there and start looking.

Below are resources to help you find jobs online and through job-information centers. You’ll also find lots of information about job placement and job-training programs in many professions. You don’t have to do it alone. There are plenty of resources available to help guide you on the right path.

One good place to start is the city's Job Information Centers. Job Information Centers provide you with the basics: Job listings or access to job listings on the Internet, as well as information on careers and vocational training programs. Sometimes they also offer workshops or one-on-one counseling to help you figure out the steps you need to take in order to get on the right path. If you are feeling confused or overwhelmed looking for a job on your own, putting together a resume, or figuring out the steps to having the career you want—but don’t want to put in all the commitment it would take to complete a job readiness and placement program—job information centers are a good place for you.

Job Info Centers at the Library

Below are the main libraries in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens, all of which have job information centers. When you enter the library, ask any library employee where you can go for help searching for jobs, researching different careers, or preparing a resume.

Mid-Manhattan Library
455 Fifth Ave. (at 40th St.)
NY, NY 10016

Job Search Central @ SIBL
188 Madison Ave (at 34th St.)
NY, NY 10016

Information on all aspects of career development, including resume writing and job search strategies. Career counselor available for one-on-one consultations Mon-Fri 11 am-5 pm.

Brooklyn Public Library
Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Provides information on job search and career training, and offers occasional workshops.

Bronx Library Center
310 East Kingsbridge Road (at Briggs Ave.)
Bronx, NY 10458

The Career and Educational Information Service offers one-on-one counseling, resume assistance, and career planning.

Queens Borough Public Library
89-11 Merrick Blvd.
Jamaica, NY 11432

Offers resume help by appointment. Provides information on job search and vocational training, and workshops related to job hunting.

Other Places to Get Job Info

Workforce One Career Centers
Bronx: 718-960-7099
Bronx - Hunts Point: 718-542-6777
Brooklyn: 718-246-5219
Healthcare Center: 718-609-2144
Manhattan: 917-493-7054
Manufacturing Center: 347-710-9900
Queens: 718-557-6755
Staten Island: 718-285-8388
Transportation Center: 718-577-2194

These centers help New Yorkers who have lost their jobs find new jobs. They also provide job-related counseling, resume preparation, and tuition assistance for new and experienced workers.

Provide services such as basic education, college prep, vocational training, and computer skills. They also offer career counseling, job readiness, and job search assistance. Walk in for an overview and orientation or call for appointment. Click here for a list of locations.

Riverdale Neighborhood House
5521 Mosholu Ave.
718-549-8100 ext. 115

Riverdale Neighborhood House offers weekly job readiness workshops for teens, and provides participants with an employment resource manual that shows them how they can apply for paid internships in fields like health services, education, and the environment.

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Job Readiness and Placement Programs


Job readiness and placement programs teach you how to find and keep a job. Unlike job-information centers (where you can make a single appointment, or even drop in to get information) these programs require that you make a commitment to attend for a period of time.

Though the commitment you make is bigger, you also get more help. You learn skills like job searching, resume writing, and interviewing techniques. Some programs offer conflict resolution training, so that if you have any problems with your boss or co-workers, you’ll be prepared to handle them. Other programs teach you basic computer and customer-relations skills.

Most programs also have job developers who take an active role in helping you find a job. Instead of you doing all the searching, you’ll have someone with connections doing some of that searching with you.

Church Ave. Merchants Block Association, Inc. (CAMBA)
2211 Church Ave., 2nd fl.
Brooklyn, NY 11226
Fax: 718-462-2826

Offers a wide-range of programs to people of all ages, including the REACH Program, open to 18-21 years olds who are out of school and are underemployed or in need of a better job. The program includes 12 weeks of job-readiness training and follow-up services that continue for at least a year. Training programs include customer-service training, computer skills, and GED and college preparation. Participants get Metrocards and lunch stipend for the 12 weeks of the program. Program is open to ex-offenders, pregnant and parenting youth, homeless and runaway youth, and youth in foster care. For information on other programs, visit the website or call and ask to speak to a vocational counselor.

Fedcap Youth and Young Adult Services

119 West 19th St.

      Offers training and job placement programs including Way to Work, a
     15-week, full-time career training and GED preparation program for New

Yorkers ages 17-24.

Learn more about Fedcap's programs for youth and young adults here.

The HOPE Program
One Smith St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201-5111
718-852-9307 x22

Offers a 12-week full-time career development program that teaches teens how to choose, find, and keep a job. Participants take employment-skills classes such as communication, interviewing, and goal-setting. Must be at least 18 years old.

Crown Heights Youth Collective
113 Rogers Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11216

Job readiness workshops and career counseling. Ages 14-26.

Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow Youth Employment Program
Sunset Park:
783 Fourth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11232

25 Thornton St.
Brooklyn, NY 11206

Two 20-week sessions with daily classes in clerical and computer skills and GED prep. Summer job training and internship placement program.

Kingsbridge Community Center
3101 Kingsbridge Terrace

Helps young people, ages 17 years and older, learn basic job and computer skills needed in the work environment. After completing the 12-week training program, participants receive help with job research, job placement and follow-up services, including job retention and career enhancement. You must either have a high school diploma or GED, or be enrolled in high school or a GED program.

FEGS/Career Development Institute
412 East 147th St., 4th Fl.
Bronx, NY 10455

GED preparation, job training and job placement assistance. Income and other eligibility requirements. Ages 19-21.

Year Up NYC

55 Exchange Place #403A

New York, NY 10005

(212) 785-3340

This year-long, full-time program is competitive, but a fantastic opportunity if you're selected. Participants first receive several months of classroom instruction in job skills and are then assigned to corporate internships. Open to low-income youth ages 18-24. Begin the application process here.

Read Donald's story about his time in Year Up.

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Job Training Programs

As part of your preparation for leaving care, your agency is supposed to support (and pay for!) the education and job training you need to live successfully on your own. This is a HUGE benefit of being in foster care. Once you leave care you have far fewer opportunities to get free education and training. So, the clock is running. Take advantage of these resources while you can.

The basic idea of job training programs and internships is "delayed gratification." That means that you might not be making a salary for a while, but if you put the required effort into the program or internship you’ll be making a higher salary and doing work you enjoy in the future. Also, when you participate in a training program, you make contact with people who can help find you a job. Some training programs pay you at least a stipend for training, but most do not. If you have to pay rent while you’re in a training program, you may need to have another job on the side.

Of course you want to find a good program that matches your skills and interests. For example, even the best auto mechanics program will disappoint you if what you really want to be doing is office work. It’s also important that you show up to the program you choose. You can’t learn if you’re not there. That means it should be easy to get to, if possible. Finally, not every program is well run. For all of these reasons, you may have to do some shopping around before you find one that’s right for you.

The list of programs in this section is a good selection of what’s out there. But this is by no means every program in the city. It’s a starting point. Staff at your agency will also have their own list of programs. They may have special knowledge and contacts at some programs, so be sure to talk to them in addition to looking at what’s here.

Read this list and pick a couple of places to call or visit. If they don’t have what you want, or if they no longer offer the program, do not give up! (And if you get someone on the phone who says their program is not for you, don’t hang up! Tell them a little about your situation and ask them to refer you to another program. The people who run these programs often know what else is available. If they’re not crazy busy that day, they often want to be helpful.)

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For even more resources…

There are lots of job training programs of all kinds listed below. Look through them to find one that is right for you. We hope you will find something. However, if you want to look even more widely, visit the web page of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition: It has lists of all kinds of programs for all kinds of people and interests, and a link to the NYC Young Adult Workforce Development Provider Directory.
This 74-page directory lists workplace provider services borough-by-borough. It breaks down services into "Education-Related" (GED classes, literacy classes, computer training, etc.), "Employment-Related" (career counseling, internship opportunities, vocational training, etc.), and "Other" (financial literacy classes, professional clothing, transportation subsidies, and housing help).
See the directory in its entirety.

 General Programs

Some training programs specialize in just one field while others offer a number of areas for participants to choose from. Below are some programs with many areas of focus. You may want to set up an appointment to visit and discuss your options with a staff member.

Covenant House Training Centers
460 West 41st St.

For youth ages 16 to 21, these programs offer individual skills assessment, plus help and training in job searching, job readiness, and job retention. After completing the basic job-readiness workshops, participants can choose to participate in job-specific training programs through the New York City Financial Partnership for Youth. Participants can choose between training, internships, and possible employment in the following areas: bank teller, travel agency, computing, security guard, construction, desktop publishing, nurse’s aid, culinary arts, fundraising, and silk screening.

CO-OP Tech
The School of Cooperative Technical Education

Main Campus:
321 E. 96th St. @ First Ave.
Manhattan, 10128

This program is designed for New York City students enrolled either in high school or in a GED program who want to get hands-on training while finishing their high school diploma. Areas of training include: air conditioning and refrigeration, building maintenance, carpentry, electrical installation, heating and ventilation, plumbing and welding, barbering, cosmetology, ambulance technology, automotive mechanics, child care and family services, culinary arts, digital printing, Computer Aided Design (CAD), Microsoft Office specialist, CompTIA A+ computer maintenance and repair, and Cisco Network Academy. Additional campuses located in downtown Brooklyn, East Harlem and the Bronx.

240 E. 123rd St.
New York, NY 10035

Offers a free, 3-4 week job readiness course, followed by support to help you find and keep a job. Young adult graduates of the program (ages 18-24) can also enroll in “hard skills” training to prepare for career jobs in computer systems and repair, “green” construction, or office operations. GED prep is also available. Training programs often begin in September, but call for more information.

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Careers Working With Youth

See CO-OP Tech

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There are many kinds of construction jobs—laborer, bricklayer, carpenter, equipment operator, iron worker, and many more. Construction jobs are generally well paying, but they require that you be willing to do hard physical work and learn new skills. Getting into the construction industry and staying there is hard work, but it pays off in good wages and benefits.

See CO-OP Tech
Areas of training at CO-OP Tech within the construction trades include: air conditioning and refrigeration, building maintenance, carpentry, electrical installation, heating and ventilation, plumbing and welding.

Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW)
243 W. 20th St.
NY, NY 10011

Offers courses and counseling to prepare women for skilled jobs in construction and other blue-collar industries. In these trades, women are able to earn considerably higher wages than in many jobs traditionally held by women. You must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, be able to read and understand English, be willing and able to travel to various job sites, and be physically capable of doing the required work.

Cypress Hills Youth Build
832 Jamaica Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11208

Offers GED instruction and job training and experience in construction for young adults. Participants gain experience while working on affordable housing projects.

Mason Tenders Training Fund/Local 79 Apprenticeship Program
42-53 21st St.
Long Island City, NY 11101
Apprenticeship Coordinator - Timothy Warrington

The Greater New York Laborers’-Employers’ Cooperation & Education Trust offers a paid apprenticeship that lasts 2-3 years and that culminates in union membership, job placement, and certification as a Skilled Construction Craft Laborer. Apprentices work in various areas of the construction industry. In total, an apprentice will complete 4,000 hours of work and 400 hours of classroom instruction. After an initial three weeks of classroom training, the remainder of the classroom training is completed at night.

Creative Fields

The Reciprocity Foundation
255 West 36th St.
New York, NY 10018

Want to start a career in fashion, music, television, film, advertising or PR? The Reciprocity Foundation helps prepare youth for careers in creative sectors by introducing them to leaders from top companies such as Marc Jacobs, Atlantic Records, Tyra Banks/America’s Next Top Model, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and Calvin Klein Inc, and by providing them with opportunities to work on projects and gain skills with industry leaders.

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Careers in Food Service

Artisan Baking Center
Consortium For Workers Education
36-46 37th St.
Long Island City, NY 11101

Introductory courses designed to give students skills and practical knowledge of the Food Service Industry. Based on student’s performance and attendance, job placement assistance and resume development is provided.

See CO-OP Tech

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Careers in Computer and Office Work

Eastside House Settlement
337 Alexander Ave.
Bronx, NY 10454
718-665-5250, ext. 250

The Community Technology Center offers a 7-week Basic Skills Program. Participants learn how to use programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point.

See CO-OP Tech

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The Armed Forces

The Army’s recruiting slogan used to be “It’s not a job, it’s an adventure.” The ads showed soldiers in faraway places, like Germany, getting to see the world and have an “adventure.”

The fact is, however, that being a soldier is a job, and one that you can’t quit. If you’re posted to a war zone it’s more dangerous than most jobs. You can’t talk back to your boss or avoid your responsibilities. So in many ways, it's much tougher than a regular job. But it's still a job in that you show up, you do work (often boring, sometimes not), and you get paid.

Are the armed forces the right job for you? There are four branches of the armed forces: the Army, the Marines, the Navy, and the Air
. Each branch has recruiters in practically every neighborhood, and recruiters often visit schools too, so they are not hard to find.

An advantage of joining the armed forces is that it can be a first step toward independence. You’re not totally independent, because you are subject to military rule and you will live on a base, at least at first. But if you’ve lived in the foster care system for much of your life, you’re probably used to following orders. (Of course, in the armed forces if you disobey they lock you up!) For some people, the limited and structured freedom of the armed forces is an important first step toward full, adult independence.

Another advantage of the armed forces is that you are serving your country. If service is important to you, the armed forces is one way to give it. (You may also want to consider other programs, such as Job Corps and Americorps.)

There are a couple of disadvantages to to the armed forces. First, unlike other jobs, once you’re in you cannot just quit if you don’t like it. Second, like trade school recruiters, armed forces recruiters are known to exaggerate and mislead young people about the benefits they might get and about military life in general. One of the most common deceptions is to tell you that once you get in you can do whatever you “qualify” for. The key word here is “qualify.” Sure, you can become a pilot, or a mechanic, or an electronics expert…if you “qualify.” But remember, there are tens of thousands of other recruits trying to qualify for the same few good jobs. (For example, in the Air Force there are literally thousands of people who wash planes, fill their gas tanks, and hand out uniforms to the pilots for every person who is actually a pilot.) Most recruits do not get the good jobs because they do not “qualify.”

Most important, by joining the armed forces you may be putting yourself in harm's way. You will not be able to control where you are posted to, and in a war zone you face serious risks. Most obvious is the risk to your life. There is also the risk of serious, perhaps permanent, injury. And even if you come home in one piece physically, in a war zone you may witness horrifying things that leave lasting psychological scars. Countless veterans have difficulty putting their experiences behind them and readjusting to civilian life. Such risks must be weighed against career benefits the military may promise in terms of skills training and discipline.

Is the armed forces the right job for you? If you qualify, and if you’re prepared for the risks, the military discipline, and four years of being a very small part of a very large system, then the armed forces might meet your needs. Just be realistic and try to anticipate what life in the military will really be like. The rosy picture painted by the recruiter is unlikely to be accurate. But, unlike the trade school rip offs, the armed forces will actually house you and pay you instead of taking money from you and leaving you deep in debt.

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Starting Your Own Business

Most of us can’t even imagine starting our own business. It seems like too much effort and too much risk. But some of us do have that entrepreneurial spirit, and even if you don’t have a lot of money saved, there are some businesses that you can start without much money, such as a housecleaning or a house painting business. Others are babysitting, window washing, shoe shining, etc.
If you are interested in starting your own businesses, here are some organizations that are ready to help you.

The New York City Department of Small Business Services
Bronx Center: 718-732-7590
Brooklyn Center: 718-875-3400
Lower Manhattan Center: 212-618-8914
Upper Manhattan Center: 917-493-7243
Queens Center: 718-577-2148
Staten Island Center: 718-285-8400
Washington Heights Center: 212-928-3400

NYC Business Solutions

Offers advice and technical assistance in starting a business.

Workshop in Business Opportunities
22 Cortlandt Street, 16th Floor
New York, New York 10011

Offers an entrepreneurial training program for those who are in business or are interested in starting one. Classes are once a week for three hours. The course is free, but materials cost $199. Low-income participants are eligible for discounts. Nine locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Yonkers.

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Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities

If you’re a person with disabilities, you know that you have a lot to offer. You also know that you may need your place of work to make certain accommodations for you. You know, too, that some employees can be prejudiced against people with disabilities when it comes to hiring, even though legally they are not allowed to be.

Listed below are organizations dedicated to helping people with physical, emotional and learning disabilities succeed in the job market. They provide all the same kinds of job counseling and job readiness services that other organizations provide, but they also specialize in helping people with disabilities succeed.

Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR)
To locate the district office for your county/borough, click here.
800-222-JOBS (5627)

This office of the government of New York State helps people with physical, emotional and learning disabilities access education, job training, and employment.

Just One Break (JOB)
120 Wall St.
NY, NY 10005
TTY: 212-785-4515

Prepares people with disabilities to obtain and maintain employment throughout New York City.

The 55a Program
Department of Citywide Administrative Services
(212) 386-0257

New York City's 55a Program allows for qualified people with mental or physical disabilities to be hired for city jobs without taking the standard written civil service exam.
Learn more about it here.

National Business & Disability Council at The Viscardi Center

201 I.U. Willets Rd.

Albertson, NY 11507


Provides a national database where job seekers with disabilities can search openings or post their resumes.

Job Path, Inc.

22 W. 38th St., 11th fl.
NY, NY 10018

A job counseling and placement program that provides ongoing support after job placement for people with disabilities.

International Center for the Disabled
340 E. 24th St.
NY, NY 10010
TTY: 212-585-6060

Provides employment training, counseling, and other supportive services to people with disabilities.

YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities
460 W. 34th St.
NY, NY 10001
TDD: 212-290-2787

Provides employment training and job placement to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Contemporary Guidance Services
52 Broadway, 4th fl.
NY, NY 10004

Provides job placement and training for adults and youth with disabilities.

Lighthouse International
111 E. 59th St.
NY, NY 10022
212-821-9200 / 800-829-0500
TTY: 212-821-9713

Provides job readiness services to people who are visually impaired.

Visions/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired
500 Greenwich St., 3rd fl.
NY, NY 10013
212-625-1616 / 1-888-245-8333

Promotes the independence of blind or visually impaired people.

AHRC New York City
83 Maiden Lane
New York, NY 10038
TDD/TTY: 1-800-662-1220

With services in all five boroughs, offers employment and training programs and supportive services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For inquiries about obtaining services, call the Central Referral/Intake Coordinators at (212) 780-4491 or (212) 780-4493

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Job Training for Ex-offenders and Drug Abusers

It can be hard enough to find a job, but when you’re coming out of jail or out of a drug rehab program, it can feel like no one is ever going to hire you. Luckily, that’s not true. While it can be harder to find a job, there are also many organizations that can help you. They provide all the same kinds of job counseling and job readiness services that other organizations provide, but they also have special contacts with businesses that are willing to hire ex-offenders and people in recovery. So when you go to job interviews, you don’t have to feel like you need to hide your past, and you can focus instead on your hopes for the future. 

Wildcat Service Corporation
2 Washington St., 3rd Floor
NY, NY 10004

Offers employment services and training, with special focus in servicing ex-offenders and people with a history of substance abuse.

240 E. 123rd St.
NY, NY 10035

Osborne Association Workforce Development Programs
175 Remsen St., Suite 800
Brooklyn, NY 11201

809 Westchester Ave.
Bronx, NY 10455

Provides resources and services to help people with criminal records return to work.

Employment Program for Recovered Alcoholics/EPRA
261 W. 35th St., 9th fl.
NY, NY 10001

Vocational and career counseling available to those 18 and older who are unemployed, have stable housing, and are in treatment or recovery.

The Doe Fund
Ready, Willing & Able

A residential drug- and alcohol-free training program offered to those who have been at least 30 days clean, remain clean, and are physically and mentally willing and able to work. Request information for you or someone you know using the online inquiry form.


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Jobs Corps

Job Corps
TTY: 877-889-5627
718-623-4000 (Brooklyn Center)
718-294-7260 (Bronx Center)

Read how Marissa joined Job Corps.  

A no-cost education and vocational training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. Participants earn their high school degree or GED while also receiving vocational training. There are Job Corps locations in Brooklyn and the South Bronx, as well as various locations outside of New York City. Participants are paid a monthly stipend. Must be 16-24, U.S. citizen or legal resident, and meet income requirements.

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AmeriCorps offers full- and part-time community service opportunities throughout the country, through partnerships with a variety of non-profit groups. You won’t get paid, but members who serve a full-time, one-year placement will receive an education award of $4,725, which can be used to pay for college or graduate school (or to pay back school loans). You may also receive a modest living allowance to cover room and board.

If you’ve graduated from high school or college, are not sure what to do next, and are interested in helping others, AmeriCorps can be a great way to build job skills, make an impact in the community, and connect with others (members usually serve in teams).

For more information and to find out how to apply, go to

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Free Clothes for Job Interviews

Dress for Success Worldwide—NY Program
32 E. 31 St., Suite 602
NY, NY 10016

Dress for Success supplies professional clothing for disadvantaged women who are returning to, or entering, the workforce. Each client receives one suit for the job interview, and once employed has the opportunity to receive additional apparel. Locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx.

Career Gear
National Headquarters
120 Broadway, 36th fl.
New York City, NY 10271

Career Gear is a non-profit organization that provides low income men and those struggling to get off public assistance with clothing for their interviews, as well motivation and follow-up support.

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Job Hunting Terms You Need to Know

F/T: F/T is an abbreviation for “full-time” work. Full-time means about 40 hours a week. (See P/T.)

Job counseling: What kind of job would be right for you? Office work? Working with children? Outdoor work? A job counselor can talk to you about your interests, your strengths, and your skills to help you figure out what kind of job is best for you.

Job developer: A job developer may help you figure out what you need to do before you are ready to seek work, such as improve your skills or work attitude. Or they might actually help you find a job. They may also work to identify jobs that you can apply for.

Job readiness: Do you have trouble getting to work on time? Are you unsure how to dress for the job? Do you wonder how you should respond if you’re criticized by your boss in front of other people? These are just some of the skills you need to be ready to work. You can learn them and more in a job readiness program.

Job training: Do you know how to use Microsoft Word? Can you wire a computer network? Job training programs can teach you these skills. (They may also offer job readiness and job counseling as part of the training.)he or she talks to you. Many employers decide whether to interview you based on your resume. Note: If you are mailing your resume to the employer before meeting him or her, you must also include a cover letter. In the cover letter you introduce yourself, explain your interest in the job, and say why you think you are a good candidate for the job.

Always get help writing a resume and a cover letter from someone who has experience writing them and is a good proofreader. (Some jobs, such as working in fast food, usually don’t require resumes.)

Requirements: Most jobs and job training programs have requirements, or rules about who they can and can’t hire or accept into the program. That means they don’t take just anyone who walks in the door.

For example, some programs take only people who have a high school diploma. Others only take people who do not have a high school diploma. Some only take people who live in a certain neighborhood, or are above or below a certain age.

Each program has different requirements. Always ask about the requirements. You’ll find that you qualify for many programs. And remember, even if you qualify, the most important requirement is that you think the program can help you and you want to be there. If you think you’re wasting your time, you probably are. (And you’re taking a seat that someone else could be using.)

Retention: Retention means keeping a job once you get it. Many employers hire lots of people, figuring most will soon quit or get fired. They keep (retain) the ones that work out. Many job training programs continue to help you once you get on the job. They’ll help you work on your timeliness and learn how to take supervision. For example, many teens in care have anger problems that come out when their supervisors tell them what to do and when to do it. A retention program can help you become more effective at managing the feelings that come up at work.

P/T: P/T is an abbreviation for part-time. Part-time work is anything less than about 30 hours a week. Many jobs, like fast food jobs, are part time. Some part-time jobs have regular schedules, but many require you to come in when they need you. Your schedule can change from week to week. (See F/T).

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Taking and Passing a Drug Test

If you are seeking employment, you should know that many employers and training programs ask you to take a drug test before they will hire you. Drug tests can detect drugs that you used weeks and even months prior to the day of test. So if you know you are going to be applying for a job or a job-training program, it is important to stay clear of all illegal substances.

If you think you may have a problem with drug dependency or addiction, it is important that you address the problem now, not only so that you can pass the drug test, but also so drug use doesn’t interfere with your job or training program once you are hired. Because it can be hard to find a job, you want to do everything you can to keep a job when you find it.

See Alcohol and Drugs: Dependence and Addiction to find out how you can find help if you need it.

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Essential Identification Documents

Before you go to a job interview, you should have certain documents in order. These include:

1) Birth Certificate

2) Social Security Card

3) NY State Non-Driver Identification Card or Drivers License

4) School Photo ID or Official School Registration Letter if you are still in school

5) Working Papers for young people ages 14-17

6) Selective Services card (males 18 years and older)

7) Alien Registration (if non-citizen)

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Working Papers: What They Are and How to Get Them

Mathew Dedewo

If you're under 18 and want to get a job anywhere in New York State, you have to get working papers. Without these papers, also known as employment certificates, no minor (anyone under the age of 18) can be legally employed (except for odd jobs or babysitting).

Working papers are given out by schools and, if you're not in school, by government offices. I'll explain below how to get them.

There are different kinds of working papers, and before you apply for them, you must know which kind is right for you. The four main types of working papers are "Non-Factory," "General Employment," "Full-Time Employment," and "Limited Employment."

"Non-Factory" working papers are for those of you who are 14 or 15 years old and in school. This certificate allows you to work in fast-food restaurants and in any other job that doesn't require you to handle big machinery.

The "General Employment" working papers are for those of you who are 16 or 17 and attending school. This certificate allows you to work in both non-factory and factory jobs. Once you get these papers you can get a job ranging from McDonald's to an assembly line.

For someone who is 16 or 17 and out of school, you need "Full-Time Employment" working papers. With these papers you can work full time at any job of your choice.

The final type of working papers is for people with physical disabilities who can only work at certain jobs. These are called "Limited Employment" working papers and they certify you to work at jobs that your doctor finds suitable.

These papers can only be issued to you if your doctor okays it. And according to the law, you can only work at the place listed on the working papers. If, for some reason, you quit that job, then you will have to go through the whole process again to get a new set of working papers.

You should keep your papers in your wallet at all times. Your boss can get in a lot of trouble if s/he hires you and you don't have working papers, if the ones you have are not right for the job, or if they are for a person of a different age. If the employer gets caught, you can also lose your job.

How Many Hours Can You Work?

If you are under 18, there are certain limits on how many hours you can work, depending on your age and whether school is in session.

For those of you who are 14 or 15 when school is in session, you aren't allowed to work more than three hours on a school day. You can work a total of 18 hours a week, and you must work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. When school is not in session, you can work up to eight hours a day and six days a week, but the limit is 40 hours a week.

If you are 16 or 17 years old and without a full-time working permit, you can only work up to four hours a day Monday through Thursday, and up to eight hours a day on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays. You cannot work more than a total of 28 hours a week or six days a week. When school is not in session, you can work up to eight hours a day and 48 hours a week.

How to Get Working Papers

To get working papers, go to the main office at your school and ask to speak to the person in charge of giving out working papers. (You may be sent to a central office in the school district.) You need to show the person who issues the papers 1) your birth certificate to prove your age, 2) a doctor's note to certify your health, and 3) your guardian's signature as consent. (If you are in a foster home, your foster parents or your caseworker may be able to sign the papers. Check with your caseworker.)

If you're not in school, then you can either go back to your most recent school or call the Department of Education's office of attendance at: 212-374-6095.

You can do all of this by yourself unless you are applying for "Full-Time Employment" papers--in that case, your guardian has to accompany you; his or her signature won't be sufficient.

Your working papers may be taken away if you are under 16 and fail four academic classes. To get your working papers back, you will have to improve in the area that caused you to lose them.

As long as you stay on the right path, you won't have any problems or complications.
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What to Do If You Do Not Have Your Documents Because You Weren't Born in the US

If you are an immigrant and do not have legal papers to live and work in this country, you may face obstacles when you apply for a job or job-training program. However, if you are still in the foster care system, you are eligible for special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), which enables you to become a lawful permanent resident. It is important that you complete this process before you age out of foster care, so make sure your caseworker is aware of your situation and helps you fill out and file the proper documents. If you are having trouble, there are a number of organizations that can help you.
At ACS, you or your caseworker can contact:

Mark Lewis, ACS Family Support Services
(212) 487-8569

Other organizations that can help you include:

Catholic Charities Office for Immigrant Services
(212) 419-3700

The Door Legal Services-Immigration Services
(212) 941-9090, ext. 3280

Sanctuary for Families
(718) 508-1251

Catholic Migration Office (Brooklyn Diocese)
(718) 236-3000

Lawyers for Children-Immigration Rights Project for
Children in Foster Care
(212) 966-6420, ext. 624

Legal Aid Immigration Law Unit Hotline
(212) 51-800-244-2540

Covenant House Legal Services Office
(212) 613-0357

New York Association for New Americans, Inc. (NYANA)
(212) 425-2900

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