What does it take to become independent? Being able to work on your own and complete your responsibilities? Earning your own money? What about being proud of what you have accomplished? These are all things that older youth participants of NYCID’s Summer Youth Employment Program have done this summer. They worked so hard to manage their time and check in with their supervisors while working independently on project based internships and learning real life skills. Even though summer feels like ages ago for some, let’s get into what our older youth did for their SYEP experience this year!

Our older youth cohort consisted of 16 -21 year olds from Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, primarily Canarsie and Brownsville. We set out to provide the best experience for our participants possible; not to mention all the planning that went into figuring out how everything would be set up such as training staff, building curriculums for internships and more. It took an immense amount of time, effort, and collaboration to be able to bring the youth of New York City a great program this year. In the end it was all worth it. 

Once everything was ready, the summer began with all participants and instructors meeting each other virtually for the first time.

On that first day, the older youth gathered together through Zoom to find out what they would be working on for the next 6 weeks. For the first 3 weeks, participants would be working individually, completing training sessions provided by another non-profit organization that we partnered with called Techie Youth. Techie Youth is an organization that helps at-risk youth become self-sufficient IT and tech professionals. 

Our participants were able to work up to 25 hours a week for 3 weeks learning technical skills that could help them build careers. They were able to work on this platform remotely on their own time while checking in with their supervisors from Techie Youth to make sure they were staying on track. Definitely a great way to learn time management! After older youth participants had completed their Techie Youth training, they moved onto NYCID’s own specialized project based internships!

The next step on the participants SYEP journey was to complete their project based internship. Another round of training told the students where to report virtually and when they would be starting the internships. Participants were to report to their assigned virtual workspaces at 1 of 3 time slots and clock in and out for the day, making sure they turned in all assigned deliverables. These deliverables were designed and geared toward each specific internship.

The project based internships were curated by NYCID leadership and created by NYCID staff in their various areas of expertise. These areas included emergency planning, community outreach, interviewing full-time NYCID team members, becoming a social media influencer, and working on entrepreneurship skills.

On the creation of the curriculum, DeVito said “NYCID, like many providers, was responsible for ensuring our young people had a meaningful work based learning experience. Many of our young people chose to be in the track 2 internship which meant that they were supposed to get 75 hours of credentialing and skill development and 75 hours of internship in a remote space that connected to an organizational workflow.”

For the Meet the Team internship, participants interviewed NYCID staff to gain insights about their goals and what it is like to work at a non profit organization improving lives. These interviews were used to update team member biographies on the NYCID website. Participants in this internship got to see the impact their work had on our organization! 

Check out this video for a more in depth look at the Meet the Team internship

You will be able to see footage from one of the interviews and some words from NYCID’s Associate Executive Director, Michael DeVito Jr. DeVito spoke about what it was like to get the program up and running and how the participants stepped up to solve a real problem for NYCID! We wanted our community in Staten Island and beyond to know the faces and names of our team. Beyond just our senior directors, we wanted the public to know who is actually making things happen everyday at NYCID! That is exactly what they did. Asking questions like why did you want to work for NYCID, how did you become involved with the organization, and some fun ones, like what is a fun fact about yourself. 

Through these interviews our participants were able to get to know our staff and communicate this information to the public who we serve. They also were able to gain confidence in their public speaking and interpersonal skills while knowing they were making a difference in our organization.

In the Social Media Influencer Internship, participants were instructed on the basics of what it takes to be in the social media game with a series of bootcamps about creating their own personal brand, photography, videography, and more! They took what they learned from the bootcamp and became NYCID brand ambassadors, letting their followers know about the great work that NYCID does! This not only helped them learn what it takes to become a social media influencer, or perhaps a social media manager for top brands, educational institutions, or other non-profits, but it also helped us spread the word about what NYCID does in the community. Participants analyzed videos and photos that NYCID had posted in the past and learned how to promote themselves in a similar fashion. With so many different moving parts of being a social media influencer what’s most important is being your true authentic self and we showed them how to do that!

“When building the curriculum for the social media influencer internship, I thought how can I pack in important information about this vast topic while still keeping our youth entertained? They definitely learned a lot and you can tell from their posts!” said NYCID Communications Associate Adam Derer

In the Young Entrepreneurs internship, students came up with business plans and learned what it takes to build a business from the ground up! They figured out if the ideas they had would be feasible in the real world and even worked on financial statements.  With so many ways and opportunities to start your own business online today, our participants got a taste of what it would really be like to go out on their own. When daydreaming about being your own boss, you don’t think about things like taxes, getting approval from local government, and applying for loans with your business plan. This is the type of information we provided our participants within this experience because we knew it is what would matter down the road.

In Emergency Planning, participants reached out to other local organizations, offering to partner with them and build plans to help their vulnerable citizens in case of an emergency. Participants practiced how to write a professional email and continue a correspondence while helping the people of Brooklyn and Staten Island! These skills are so important, not only for preparing for an emergency but for almost every job they may potentially have. They will need to know how to communicate with the people they are working with in the future and this gives them the foundation on how to do that.

Finally, in the Community Outreach Internship, participants did research on local businesses that would be a good match to partner with NYCID for next year’s Summer Youth Employment Program. They reached out to make connections and build partnerships. Once again, this is not just something that kept our participants busy.  This is something that provided a vital need for NYCID as an organization.  We are constantly looking to see if we can gain additional worksite opportunities. This began to build relationships not only for us, but also for the participants who are on the front lines meeting these people and organizations.

The participants also had to make sure that they were submitting everything correctly and on time. Across the internships, participants had to present their instructors with different deliverables, whether that was a post they made for the Social Media Internship or an organization they had contacted for the Community Outreach Internship. We set it up so participants would be able to submit their assignments through google forms, through our own Basecamp server, and through shared google drive folders. They also were responsible for checking in with their instructors in the beginning and the end of the work day while completing their work on their own throughout the day. They had to fill out timesheets that were only made available to them if they came to virtually meet with instructors. This helped them build time management skills by completing their work on their own, and also taught them responsibility by making sure they showed up, twice a day to complete their timesheets.

It’s safe to say our older youth worked hard and learned a lot this summer and were able to learn real life skills that could prepare them for future careers down the line.  

The summer is now over, and as we begin the autumn season we can reflect on our experience being a SYEP provider in 2021. Not only did participants learn essential technological skills with Techie Youth, they learned how to communicate and build confidence with our very own project based internships. They can leave their experience with NYCID knowing that they actually made a difference in our organization. The participants that put in the work got paid for it both monetarily and with priceless life skills. That is exactly what we set out to accomplish. We cannot brush away the youth of New York City and America as a whole. They are the ones that will lead us tomorrow, so we must teach them today.