Below is the text of an Op-Ed, written by Stephanie Gambone, chair of YPN and vice president of Business Partnerships for Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN), and Christopher Parker, vice chair of YPN and store manager and assistant vice president of TD Bank, that appeared in the Philadelphia Business Journal last week.

 

Robert Smith’s first professional work experience came after his junior year at Northeast High School. He landed a paid internship at TD Bank working as a greeter, through the WorkReady Summer Internship program. Robert’s managers were so impressed they asked him to stay on during the school year and offered him a full-time position upon graduation. Two years later Robert works as assistant head teller in TD’s Andorra branch or “store.” He is excited about continuing to move up at TD and a career in banking, a path he had never considered before his internship.

For young people like Robert, this first professional experience can be life-changing. That is why we support the efforts to encourage all regional employers — from large companies to small businesses — to provide a paid internship for a Philadelphia high school student this summer. Over the past three summers, 3,500 young people have worked at universities and museums, corporations and radio stations.

Internships allow urban teens to see opportunities beyond their neighborhoods, help them learn important job skills, and teach them the value of going to work every day and earning pay.

Each year, however, there aren’t enough internships for many qualified and ambitious young people. In recent years, teen job losses have far exceeded that of other age groups. This joblessness has long-term consequences for the future of our city. Research shows that kids with work experience are more likely to go on to college, stay in our work force, earn bigger paychecks and become productive citizens and employees.

We know that the next generation is the key to our region’s future. But more than ever, young people today need support to achieve their goals.

Each position costs the employer about $1,600, which includes intern salary and program administration for the six-week program. Interns work at least 20 hours per week Monday through Thursday and attend professional development programs off-site on Fridays. All students are pre-screened and interviewed by the prospective employers.

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Network and the Young Friends of Philadelphia Youth Network raised enough money to fund a position.

Providing a paid summer internship for teens is an investment in their future — and the region’s.

To provide an internship or for more information, visit greaterphilachamber.com or call 215-790-3732.