Deadline for young professional job programs is midnight Friday

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COLUMBIA - A job application for at-risk Columbia youth to get paid work experience ends Friday at midnight.

The Columbia Parks and Rec C.A.R.E. program offers at-risk youth who attend Columbia schools or live in  Columbia the opportunity to work for a summer in order to gain work experience.

Anyone 14-20 years old can apply online for the C.A.R.E. Summer Trainee position and go through different levels of interviews to be placed in different work sites across Columbia.

"They get eight weeks of getting paid, but they are getting real-world, hands on work experience," C.A.R.E. Supervisor Ron Schmidt said. "We've been doing that since 1982."

The C.A.R.E. program has received as many as 400 applications in past years, but only accepts 150 people for the eight week summer program. 

Those accepted are employed at an assigned work site, which includes the Columbia Mall, COMO Smoke and Fire BBQ and many offices and daycares across the community.

Matt Hawkins, who owns COMO Smoke and Fire, said: "They are fantastic workers. They really are. A lot of these kids, they come in and they've never had a job before, and they're trying hard. And it shows. Whenever they try hard, we will keep them around."

Hawkins has hired four C.A.R.E participants and said he will continue to remain a part of the program for as long as he can. 

Although the summer program application closes at midnight, the C.A.R.E. Art Gallery job application process opens February 6 and closes March 16.