Why you should care
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While job hunting can be a nightmare at any age, the wrath of today’s competitive employment market is perhaps hardest on students fresh out of high school and college. However, a new wave of youth is not only pre-empting its successful entry into the workforce but also increasing its salaries by up to 11 percent — according to the JPMorgan Chase & Co. study, Expanding Economic Opportunity for Youth Through Summer Jobs — before even landing the first interview.
Summer youth internship programs around the country have developed initiatives offering students the chance to earn a paycheck while exploring different career options and discovering their strengths and passions. With financial backing from JPMorgan Chase & Co, many of these programs are more crucial than ever.
Since 2000, the U.S. Department of Labor has decreased youth funding by more than 30 percent.
There’s an added perk to taking on summer work: higher long-term salaries. Students who work during the summer are more prepared when it comes time to take on a full-time role, according to Detroit Employment Solutions Corp. President and CEO Nicole Sherard-Freeman.
“They have experience that sometimes college graduates don’t even have,” Sherard-Freeman says, responding to Expanding Economic Opportunity for Youth Through Summer Jobs, a study that found internships could increase a young person’s salary by up to 11 percent for up to eight years after high school. “They’ve had a summer, or two summers, or, best-case scenario, four summers of real-life work experiences, which are impressive to employers. Often, those employers are looking at a kid who’s had significant work experience and has a credential of some sort and comparing [that] to college graduates who have a credential but no meaningful summer work experience. The youth with the experience is more attractive. They have increased readiness, proven skill sets and prior track records, and those three components often lead to a higher salary at hire.”
Further strengthening these students’ financial futures, many of the programs have employed payroll strategies such as savings components and payroll cards with low fees, which are found to help develop a “banking mindset” in young people as they prepare to enter the workforce.
I got so much hands-on experience — even observing up to four surgeries per day.
The programs have also proved invaluable for students as they navigate the daunting prospect of life after graduation. In addition to helping develop basic skills required in the workplace — time management, appearance, communication, teamwork — some courses also offer academic credit or industry certification. At Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ career and technical education programs, for example, participants earn high school academic credit and sometimes even dual college credit. Students who work summer jobs and internships often have an “in” when it comes to landing a full-time gig. One in four employers participating in New York City’s PENCIL youth employment program offered students a permanent job following their summer stint.
These programs are also a lot more holistic and personalized than standard internships. Hillary Frey, executive director of STL Youth Jobs in St. Louis, recalls the story of Amber, a young woman who entered the program while dealing with pregnancy, her boyfriend’s death and her parents suffering a violent accident. Determined not to let hardship threaten her future, Amber pursued her interest in health care by landing a job at a local hospital.
“Someone in a similar situation maybe wouldn’t have persevered, but Amber was very motivated and we were able to help her navigate through the process,” Frey says. “Because of that, she’s on her way to a college degree and will be very successful in whatever she does.”
“JPMorgan helped us develop our relationship with that particular hospital,” Frey adds. “Two years ago, when they were investing in our work, they specifically invested in health care.”
Another success story in the health care sector is Julius, who took an internship at Miami’s Advanced Orthopedics and Neurosurgery Group.
“I got so much hands-on experience — even observing up to four surgeries per day,” Julius said following his placement. “The internship opened my eyes to the many opportunities available in this career path.”
- True Story
- True Story