This past summer, dozens high-school students were on Harvard campus working in offices, museums and libraries as part of Harvard's annual Summer Youth Employment Program. They were developing real-life skills such as teamwork, being held accountable, how to dress and act professionally, and how to meet deadlines. They were also earning what for many, is a much needed paycheck.
Experts say that holding down a job as a teenager leads to better job skills as an adult, and ultimately higher lifetime earnings.
Sixteen-year-old Yusef Chisholm, a Cambridge Rindge and Latin School student, spent the summer working with Harvard’s Assistant Director of Community Programs. He shares his story, and what he learned, below.
My Harvard Summer Experience
By Yusef Chisholm
My name is Yusef Chisholm, I am 16 years old, and I work at Harvard University in Public Affairs and Communications (HPAC). This department is a perfect fit for me because not only did I gain a great deal of professional office experience but I learned how communities less than a mile away can be left out of the economic and social world. Being the only high school intern at your office can be a little bit intimidating at first, but my co-workers were very welcoming and always supportive. My co-workers made me feel part of their team and that I added value to the work we did together.
Throughout my internship, I have gained and improved on countless number of skills that I have applied in my work and that will be very valuable in my school work. The ability to conduct proper research is one very valuable skill that I am certain will serve me well in life. I also had the opportunity to implement the research skills while working in HPAC. Researching complex databases and parsing out relevant information for small businesses improved my analytical and organization skills and forced me to be patient about the results to value the time it takes to process good research and data. Patience isn’t a virtue among millennials, of which I am one so it was really great to exercise this skill and understand its value. I’ve improved my communication skills in my role through my interactions with my co-workers and to various businesses and discussions I’ve had with executives from across the country. I am certain that the sum of my skills at HPAC will continue to serve me professionally, personally and in school and for my future professional and personal goals.
I am very grateful for this opportunity that Harvard has given to me this summer, and will look back at this experience as one of the key factors of my future success. Harvard did not just give me the chance to grow as an office employee, but more importantly as an individual.