Teens consider array of options for summer jobs at fair
Marangela James, 16, of Mattapan, wanted Saturday to find “a good job that will provide me more knowledge.”
Elaf Eldali, 15, of Roslindale, said she wanted work that will allow her “to be active physically” and “work outside.”
Steven Milton, 16, of Mattapan, might return to the Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center, he said, where last summer he had his first-ever job as a camp counselor.
These teens — and more than 1,500 other Boston students — had a diverse array of options among about 100 employers participating in the city’s summer youth job and resource fair at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury.
Participating organizations included the The Center for Teen Empowerment, Artists for Humanity, Sociedad Latina, Piers Park Sailing Center, Company One Theatre, and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy.
The fair’s goal was to introduce students to the city’s many partner organizations working to keep teens employed, off the streets, and learning new skills during the summer, according to Ruth Georges, the event’s organizer and manager of engagement outreach for the Boston Centers for Youth & Families’ Division of Youth Engagement and Employment.
“We must make sure our youth have opportunities to continue learning and growing throughout the summer months,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said at the event, according to a prepared statement. “We’re looking forward to matching our bright young people with great employers for the upcoming summer.”
Lindsay Dieudonne, 17, of Roxbury, already has a job working with the Boston Police Department’s Kids Overcoming Pressure, or KOP, program. She was at the fair promoting KOP, the Boston Police Explorers Program, and the Boston Police Teen Academy.
Dieudonne, whose late father was a police commissioner in Haiti, said teenagers often don’t realize there are opportunities to explore future career paths while they’re still in high school.
“A lot of times . . . we’re just like, ‘OK, so there’s nothing for us to do. We might as well wait ’til college and work at a retail store or something like that.’ And it’s not really our passion,” she said.
At the fair, students could try out technologies found in different workplaces, learn how to dress professionally and knot a necktie, and begin building portfolios to catch an employer’s eye.
Diya Thapa, 14, of Brighton, was one of many students who had a headshot taken by a professional photographer, Glenn Kulbako, for Jobcase, a website designed to help those who are beginning or changing careers to build professional networks and find mentors.
Before, Thapa said, she mostly had “funny pictures and not, like, serious ones I could show professionally.” She loves working with children, and was looking Saturday at opportunities to be a counselor at one of the summer camps participating in the fair. It will be her first job.
“I’m really excited for it,” she said.
At one of the 17 tables operated by the youth empowerment organization Year Up, Gina Ramirez, 26, looked at the teens and remembered being young and unsure of her future.
Ramirez began working at 14, she said, but her early jobs were in places like an auto parts store — not somewhere she felt she could build a career. Then she got involved in Year Up, built on her existing computer skills, and prepared herself to enter the corporate world.
Now she has a job in information technology at State Street Corporation, a good income, and a 401(k) account.
“If I didn’t do Year Up, I don’t know where I would be right now,” she said. “Probably just working a little mediocre job and not getting by.”