More than 900 teenagers and young adults in Tarrant County are working at summer jobs created by federal stimulus funds.
Mariel Perez, 17, can tell other high school seniors she spent her summer working for a criminal court judge when she returns to school Aug. 14.
"I make copies, send fax, get the mail -- you know, start with basic and go on up," she said.
The aspiring lawyer from Fort Worth got her job through the Summer Youth Employment Program.
"I don't know no one from the courthouse. I do not have no kind of connections, so that really helped me," Perez said. "Without the summer youth program, I wouldn't have the job."
Normally, there might be enough money to create just 60 youth jobs in Tarrant County all year.
But more than $4 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created about 1,100 summer jobs in Tarrant County, including positions everywhere from libraries and courthouses to law firms and dental offices.
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The jobs pay anywhere from the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour up to $16 per hour to youth ages 14 to 24 who meet certain income eligibility requirements.
"They're having a hard time finding jobs now, just because of the high unemployment rate", said Jorge Guerra, a youth services manager with Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County. "But the main focus is to get them job skills, get the job readiness so they can know what it's like when they go out to the workforce."
Perez is one of three summer interns working for Judge Jamie Cummins, but she is the only one getting paid -- about $9 per hour.
"She's been willing to do anything and everything for us, so it's been great," Cummings said.
Perez said her summer job has helped her narrow down her career choices.
"Working here really helped me decide what I wanted to be, and I was to be an attorney, because I was very undecided on what i wanted before this," she said.
Although school starts in a few weeks, Workforce Solutions is still placing some of the more than 2,500 youth who applied for the program.
"Those who are out of school -- because we are servicing up to 24-year-olds -- they can go up to Sept. 30th. So they still have some time to make some income," Guerra said.