NEG participants find valuable job experience in the program
Three American Samoa National Emergency Grant (NEG) participants, who were paid interns at the American Samoa Power Authority and the Governor’s Office, were very pleased to be given the chance to work, even though it was only for a certain period of time.
The duration of paid work experience is 520 hours for each participant, and the hours assigned are planned in consideration of the needs of the participant and the job duties to be performed. Last week Samoa News reported on four NEG participants (see Apr. 4 edition for details).
According to an update provided by the Department of Human Resources, which oversees the NEG work experience internship program, there were 835 participants who were employed in the public and private sectors since last December and 231 have completed their internships.
Workers were pleased with their work experience, according to the DHR interview-questionnaires, which also included comments from the person’s immediate supervisor at the job site.
Rowena Mamea, 26, interned as clerk/receptionist at the Governor’s Office, where her job description called for providing customer service to the public, clients, and ASG workforce and included among other things answering telephone calls, relaying messages, and maintaining and updating filing systems and inventory.
When asked how the NEG program affected her, Mamea said, the “experience has made a big impact in my life by learning new skills and being able to gain knowledge in clerical duties.”
“After graduating from ASCC with a degree in Liberal Arts, I knew it was time to find a job. Working for the NEG program allowed me to gain work experience and was a big challenge for me,” she said. “This is my first job after school and I hope to remain in a permanent position to help better my skills and experience for future references.”
As to the type of skills she gained, she said they included communicating with customers, employees, and other individuals to provide them with information or address any questions or concerns.
“I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work at the Governor’s Office and meet many people and gain so much work experience. I am looking forward to continuing my training and further my understanding as an assistant to this office,” she said.
Her immediate supervisor, Motu Laau Seui Jr., the deputy chief of staff, said “Rowena has been an asset to this office and looking at her continuous support for the Governor’s Office.”
Commenting on the NEG internship program, Motu said the program has successfully met the goal and mission to serve the public, and at the same time teach our youth the importance of learning skills.
Among the participants who worked at ASPA was 24-year old Spencer Toeava, whose job title was Administrative Clerk #1 and Jeremiah Taufete’e, 25, who worked as Record Recovery Clerk.
Toeava’s job description included compiling data, customer service and monitoring hours for the NEG group of participants. Skills gained at the job site, said Toeava, are excellent Customer Service; working with the database by using Excel; reporting; accurate documentation; analytical skills and handling purchase orders.
“This is truly an exciting experience for me, having learned so much. If it wasn’t for the NEG program, I would probably be at home doing nothing,” the enthusiastic Spencer stated when asked how the program has affected him.
“I have matured mentally and professionally with the best coaches to train me about the pros and cons in a working environment,” he said, referring to his immediate Supervisor Enele Ta’atasi, and Solid Waste Division Manager, Afonotele Petero Lafaele.
“I take great pride in my job and it literally gives me a sense of joy and an appreciation of how important I am in this operation, as well and as my relationship with others,” said the Mapusaga Fou resident.
He also stated that he has learned how critical it is to work together and to keep an open flow of communication among superiors and their employees.
“I have learned that despite our different status and titles, each individual plays a significant part in accomplishing the agency’s overall mission statement,” he said.
Regarding Toeava’s overall performance, Afonotele said “I’m impressed with how he handles our customers, not only when they visit our office, but how he serves them on the phone.”
Ta’atasi said Toeava was initially a shy person, but he believes that his understanding and knowledge in terms of responsibilities in the office has boosted his self-esteem and he’s proud to say how productive he has been in their daily operation.
Regarding the knowledge and understanding he has obtained so far with their operation, the ASPA officials announced that they have assigned the NEG participant to handle their Scrap Metal database, an enormous task that requires one’s ability to accurately analyze data for effective results and sound decisions.
The ASPA officials also acknowledged that five of the NEG participants have been successfully transferred as permanent employees into the agency, after they satisfied ASPA with their performances and contribution.
In addition, two of these participants have been identified with specialized skills, Tanuli Taimaaiono as a welder and Donald Ah Foon as a panel beater.
The significance of being able to identify these special skills from the NEG participants is saving the agency from sole sourcing contracts to carry out these tasks, Afonotele pointed out.
Afonotele said this is one reason they are thankful that they have chosen to partner and collaborate with the Department of Human Resources, to utilize the talents from the NEG pool of participants.
Taufete’e says that skills gained on the job include handling trouble calls; data entry; answering incoming calls; dealing with the customers; handling PO’s; documenting the requests from customers; and effective communication.
“I’m very proud of myself for being an employee of ASPA, even though I’m just a temporary NEG participant,” Taufete’e said explaining at the same time the wealth of experience he has gained from working with a “very professional” group of people.
The Nu’uuli resident explained how he has developed professionally and how his experience at ASPA has slowly impacted his mentality with work.
“I never understood the importance of the employees that collect trash around the island, till I worked for ASPA. I now can appreciate what they do and how committed and willing they are to work at odd hours of the night to make sure the litter around the island gets picked up,” Taufete’e expressed.
Taufete’e has been transferred from the Water division where he was initially placed to the Record Recovery division, after discovering that he possesses computer skills.
“I’m enjoying very much working with ASPA even if I am to pick up the trash. The environment is just inspiring, everyone takes pride in their own individual responsibilities, which has given me a sense of pride in who I am and the work that I do,” he said.