Drexel University Libraries participates in Philadelphia Youth Network’s WorkReady Program
When Henry Taylor graduates from high school next summer, he’ll be one step ahead of his peers. Taylor, a Kensington senior, is a participant in the Philadelphia Youth Network’s WorkReady Program, which matches over 5,000 young people to summer employment opportunities and service programs, where they can build skills to prepare for their eventual careers.
Taylor was matched with Drexel University, and began work in the Libraries in June 2011. Since, the enthusiastic youth has worked hard to build upon his professional skills.
“This is Henry’s first job, and we have an exciting opportunity to help him discover and build essential skills that will help him to become a successful professional,” Library Reserve Coordinator, Gina Cacace, who works closely with Henry, said.
WorkReady provides participating organizations with a structured set of lessons for student participants to learn during the program. Henry has worked on building valuable networking skills through meetings with staff within the Libraries, where he learned about their job responsibilities, work histories and education. He also met with the Libraries’ Career Services Librarian, Brendan Johnson, to learn about different college majors and the career paths associated those fields of study.
Taylor, a football player who’s favorite subjects include math and science, isn’t sure what he wants to do for a living or what major he might like to pursue as a major, but he does have dreams of owning his own business one day.
“I like coming in to work every day,” Taylor said about working at W. W. Hagerty Library. “Everybody is always happy and smiling like they never have a bad day. Or, if they do have a bad day, they don’t show it.” Henry works closely with several librarians and staff members, but admittedly has a few favorites, largely because of their kindness and humor.
“Henry and I have shared a lot of laughs and he has taught me things as well," Cacace said. “He’s showed me how important it is to get out of my ‘librarian’ state of mind and has changed the way that I relate to my work.”
Taylor’s favorite day at work so far had little to do with the Libraries and much more to do with preparing for college. Drexel University is currently hosting a New Student Orientation program where incoming students travel from around the area to stay overnight on campus and gain a sneak peak into what life will be like on campus. Henry was able to attend the Libraries’ part of this process and he lists the experience as his best day at Drexel to date. “I was able to see the incoming students and what they’re like,” he said, likely realizing that he’s not very different from the individuals a year older than him and that beginning college is an exciting and sometimes terrifying process for everyone.
Regardless of the institution he eventually chooses, working in the Libraries has taught Taylor a valuable lesson in planning ahead. “Don’t wait until the last minute,” he says, “A lot of people come in and try to get books/materials at the last minute, and the items are already checked out. They could fail [their assignment] because they waited too long.”
About WorkReady Philadelphia
WorkReady Philadelphia is the city-wide youth workforce development system, which is funded through a blending of public, private sector and philanthropic investments. Overseen by the Philadelphia Council for College and Career Success – a subgroup of the Workforce Investment Board – WorkReady Philadelphia 2011 summer youth employment and service programs run from July 5 through August 12 and serve over 5,000 young people. Participating youth earn at least minimum wage, and participate for 120 hours over the six-week period. The bulk of public funding for WorkReady Summer 2011 is provided through Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and the Workforce Investment Act.
Jenny James Lee, Drexel University Libraries, Marketing & Events Associate at 215-571-4095 or email@example.com
Niki Gianakaris, Director, Drexel News Bureau, Office of University Communication at 215-895-6741, 215-778-7752 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Martin, Communications Coordinator, Philadelphia Youth Network, Inc. at 267-502-3752 or email@example.com
Article by: Jenny James Lee with editing by Niki Gianakaris