I currently help to make software that teaches elementary school students how to read. My role is a programmer and coach to other programmers.
When I was a YES teen, I was a receptionist at Lite 97 FM. Working at the front desk at a radio station was a great introduction to the world of work. I got to learn about all the different jobs that make up a radio station -- I even got to write some ads, and choose some songs that got played on the air! My favorite task, though, was answering the phone when the DJs ran contests... To this day, I often answer the phone, "Calling about the contest? You're caller number one, thanks for calling!"
In the world of smartphones and text messages, the art of leaving a professional voice message has all but vanished. Check out this quick tip from Emily about how to leave a voice message.
Something about an impending February break always makes me think of summer. I’ve always been of the opinion that if you can make it to February break, you can make it through March. And if you can make it through March, April break is just around the corner. By the time April break is over, it might as well be summer.
Ridiculous as my logic may be, here at YES, we are already hard at work planning for our Summer Jobs Program. Beverly is securing funding so we can pay our teens, Penny and Brent are calling businesses we’ve never worked with to see if they would consider partnering with YES, and Emily is updating documents and databases to prepare them for the impending summer season.
With summer fast approaching, YES asked Ithaca’s teens what their ideal summer job would be. About half of the teens we spoke with were interested in the kinds of summer jobs you might expect, like being a camp counselor, working at a restaurant, lifeguarding, farming, dog walking, working in retail or scooping ice cream. The other half included a wide variety of activities, from working at a bank, to landscaping, to working at an amusement park. For the most part, Ithaca’s teens want to work during the summer doing the kind of work you’d expect to see teens do during the summer.
But a few really surprised us and thought outside of the box, and even outside of Ithaca.
Here are 3 of the more out-of-the-box responses we heard, and ways those teens could actually get the summer jobs of their dreams…
White House Intern
Sounds crazy, right? This internship actually exists, and is designed to help participants learn more about the Executive Office and develop their leadership skills. Unfortunately for most high schoolers, you must be 18 by the time the internship starts to qualify. If you’re a senior with an interest in civics and government, this internship could be a good option. Click here for more information.
If you're not quite old enough for the White House Internship, but you still think you’d like to spend your summer working for the government and learning about what it takes to lead the country, check out this opportunity, and also take a look at this. Both offer a variety of ways to get into government work as a teen, including being a page for the Senate.
Unfortunately for high school students, Google’s internships are geared toward college students and recent college graduates. The Computer Science Summer Institute is meant for students preparing for their first year of college to study computer science. This program is not paid, but it could be a cool way to build your resume if you hope to go into a computer science field. Check it out here.
For high school students who are interested in coding and working specifically for Google, check out the Google Code-In. This is a global, online contest for teens of any age to learn about open source, complete small open source tasks, and win prizes in the process. It may not be an official job, but if you do well, you could end up winning some money. Check it out.
A Nanny… Like Mary Poppins without the Singing
For a teen with an interest in caring for children locally for the summer, a good starting point could be care.com. On this site, you can post your profile so families can learn more about you before offering you a nanny job. Additionally, you can browse jobs to see what you might qualify for. This site also allows you to offer to care for the elderly, pets, and even do housekeeping. It’s a bit like the “jobs” section of Craigslist, only way less sketchy.
If you’re more interested in being au pair, living abroad and caring for children, you might consider checking out Workaway. This sight is meant to help travelers interested in working connect with hosts and jobs overseas. It is not just for au pairs, but you could certainly find live-in childcare work using this site. One of the best things about this site is that it allows travelers to review their hosts and the jobs they got, so you can see if the person or organization you’ll be working for is legit.
For the rest of Ithaca’s teens -- the more practical and conventional thinkers -- consider working through YES this summer. We offer many of the high demand summer jobs, like working at summer camps, food service, or in retail, but we are also always looking to partner with new businesses and organizations to ensure that all of our teens have a meaningful work experience over the summer. For more information about our Summer Jobs Program, stop by and see us at the Youth Bureau any time, IHS during lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays, LACS at lunch most Wednesdays, and BOCES and New Roots by appointment.
Name: La Toya Benton
I currently work as an administrative assistant at the Ithaca Youth Bureau, helping out with the recreational department programs and front office assistant.
When I was 15 years of age I was hired to be a finical clerk through the YES summer program for a company where I was to mange all clerical duties. After working my summer job with the YES program, the company I worked for decided to hire me. I worked there for 16+ years. I recently received an opportunity to work for the Ithaca Youth Bureau after those 16 years, and I am now currently working for the IYB as an administrative assistant. Funny how things can come full circle sometimes.
If you got your start with YES, we'd love to share your story! Take 5 minutes to fill out the #StartWithYES form.
Check out Brent's killer explanation of how to make a follow up phone call after you submit an application!
We've been working hard to get our YouTube Channel up and running. In these videos, we introduce our year-round YES Team.
When I was a teen, growing up in northern New Hampshire, there weren’t really any good places to hang out. We didn’t have a mall. We didn’t have any coffee shops or teen-friendly restaurants. If you had asked me or my peers where we hung out after school, the vast majority of us would have said we hung out at home or at a friend’s house.
I really didn’t have a good place to hang out until I learned how to whitewater kayak. From that point on, all I wanted to do was hang out on the river, near the river, and near people who wanted to be on the river.
Right around the same time, a local entrepreneur named Fran opened a store called Wilderness Sports. It was right on the river’s edge, and it was full of boats and people who loved them. Even though it wasn’t the kind of place you’d expect to find a teenager just hanging out, it was a place I loved to visit, even when I didn’t have money to spend. I loved sitting in each of the kayaks and imagining I was on the water. I loved chatting with Fran about the new gear I thought I needed, and I loved talking to the other customers about where they had been paddling and what kind of boats they had. For a teen who had just discovered their love of kayaking, Wilderness Sports was the perfect place to hang out.
The more time I spent in the store, the more I got to know Fran, and she got to know me. Sure, I was 13, and she was almost my parents’ age, but I felt like she was a friend. Since I enjoyed spending time with her and in her store, I told her regularly that as soon as I was old enough to get a job, I wanted to work for her at Wilderness Sports.
When I turned 14, Fran wasn’t hiring. But that didn’t stop me from swinging by the store, saying hello, and checking out the new inventory on a regular basis.
Toward the end of my freshman year of high school, I got a phone call. It was Fran. She was looking for someone to watch the store for a couple hours a week in the evenings so she could teach a class at the community college. After almost two years of hanging out, building a relationship, and asking for a job, I was the first person she offered the job to, and I readily accepted.
Ithaca has a lot more going on than my small town in New Hampshire. This week, YES asked 400 teens where they like to hang out outside of school. One teen said, “This is Ithaca. Everywhere is a good place to hang out.” Even still, just like my town, many teens prefer to hang out at home or at a friend’s house (about 50%). Of those who hang out outside of their home, the top two places teens like to spend their time are on the Commons and at the Mall. Check out this map to see where Ithaca teens are spending their time:
Teens who are spending a lot of time on the commons or at the mall are surrounded by job opportunities. Based on my experience, here are 3 tips I’d offer a teen who wants to work where they hang out:
Getting a job when you’re 14 can be very difficult. Many of the larger businesses, like Target or Best Buy, have very strict age restrictions for their employees, and 14 is almost always too young. The key to getting a job, especially if you’re younger than 16, is networking.
Networking simply means that you build relationships with people, and you use those relationships to open doors to job opportunities. Hanging out at Wilderness Sports I built a relationship with the store owner, Fran, and she gave me my first job. I also built relationships with the other customers. One of those customers ended up opening a whitewater rafting company. When he was hiring raft guides, he remembered how much I loved being on the water, and that’s how I got my second job.
If you’re thinking about trying to get a job, begin networking in places you already enjoy hanging out. Spend time talking to the people who work there. Get to know the managers and the owners. Let them get to know you so they can see you would make a reliable worker.
Learn About the Business
When I first started hanging out at Wilderness Sports, I had a very basic understanding of what gear was necessary to make it safely down the river. After spending more time there and asking a lot of questions, I learned about how a life jacket should fit, what each style of boat was meant for, and what each piece of equipment was specifically designed to do.
Learning about Fran’s business and the products she was selling showed her that I was serious about my desire to work there. Additionally, the more I knew about kayaking, the more I knew I wanted to work at Wilderness Sports. By the time I actually got my job there, I had learned enough about the business that I barely needed any training on my first day of work.
If you’re looking for a job, one of the best ways to show initiative is to learn about the place you want to work. In some cases, simply spending time there might be enough to give you a sense of what the business is all about. Often times, you’ll need to ask questions or do some research. What products do they sell, and what are they used for? Why are they in business? What is their mission statement? What kind of image are they trying to portray to the public? The more you can learn, the more prepared you’ll be if and when you’re able to get a job there.
When I first asked Fran for a job, she wasn’t hiring. When I asked the second time, she wasn’t hiring. It took almost two years of my telling her that I wanted to work for her before she had a position available for me. But when that position was available, she knew I was serious, and she knew I’d want the job.
Persistence, along with a little patience, is an important step to getting the kind of job you’re looking for. Sometimes that means applying for many jobs, or asking many places if they are hiring before you find even one place to apply, and sometimes that means asking the same person if they are hiring every month. Maybe your favorite store on the commons isn’t hiring right now, and maybe they won’t be hiring the next ten times you ask. But when they are finally looking for some part time help, if you've been persistent, they will remember you, and they will remember you really want to work there.
If and when you'd like some help landing a job where you like to hang out, call the YES office at (607)273-8364. We are here to help you make connections and land the job.