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May 27, 2015
NY 1

Program Aims to Prepare City Youth for Real World Job Market

City high schools are turning to the business community for help teaching students some critical skills they aren't learning in the classroom. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed this report.

It's like speed dating—a few minutes of chit-chat before moving on to a new partner—but they aren't looking for love.

They're high school students seeking help finding a job receiving pointers from employees at the website LinkedIn.

It's part of a 30-hour intensive career training course that began in January and will culminate in paid internships at major corporations this summer.

 “I made a marketing campaign for Coca-Cola which was the best experience of my life,” says student David Dames.

It's program run by the non-profit organization PENCIL, which has been connecting businesses to city public schools for decades—most famously with its annual "Principal For A Day" program bringing executives into the classroom.

"About five or six years ago a lot of schools came to us and said that their students were not having great success over the summer," says PENCIL President David Weiner.

So PENCIL began working with a small group of kids, helping them learn job skills and land internships. Just a few years later, there are 200 students taking part in a highly organized training course.

"Summer and after school used to be a time that kids played around maybe they got a job in an ice cream shop and it's really changed. Internships are now a key component for students future," Weiner says.

PENCIL even gives each student a business suit and requires their internships are paid.

“We think it's important for them to receive equal pay to do the work. We also find that the businesses feel it's an important commitment for them to pay the students,” Weiner says.

The training doesn't end with the paycheck, either.

“PENCIL would give us financial aid workshops on how to spend our money, because for some of us it was our first time ever getting an actual job,” says student Azeezat Siyanbola.

Students say the practice interviews – and helpful pointers, like showing up 15 minutes early and writing a thank you note afterward, even helped them in applying to colleges. 

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