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Area Teens Join Drexel Libraries Staff through Summer Internship Program

August 8, 2018

For many high school students, summer is a time for relaxing, vacationing and spending time with friends and family.

This is not the case for Tiara Todd, Lena Wyatt and 115 other students from the Philadelphia area. They are spending their summers working at more than 50 local organizations – including Drexel – as part of the WorkReady Philadelphia summer internship program, a citywide initiative that connects teenagers with employers for six-week paid internships.

This year, the Drexel Libraries offered two internship positions in the End-User Technology Support department. Tiara and Lena were hired based on their interests in technology and gaining hands-on experience with computer programming.

Two women stand next to each other
Tiara Todd (Left) and Lena Wyatt (R) are the Drexel Libraries' 2018 summer interns.

Tiara, who will be in 11th grade at The Workshop School in West Philadelphia this fall, wants to be an entrepreneur. She hopes the skills she gains from her internship will help her towards this goal. “It will be important for me to have computer skills if I’m going to run my own business one day,” she said. “This world is all about technology, and it has been good to work [in the EUTS] department and to learn all of this tech stuff I didn’t know before.”

Over the course of the summer internship program, which runs July 9 through August 17, Tiara and Lena will gain experience overseeing the Libraries’ public computers, installing computer applications, “cleaning” computer desktops and more.

“Every day I walk around the library to make sure all the computers are turned on and working,” explained Lena, a sophomore at the Philadelphia High School for Girls. “I also make sure the printers have paper and that the laptops in the laptop kiosk are charged.” Lena has learned a lot through her internship – how to install Windows 10, for example. “It’s been really fun and interesting so far,” she said.

Lena and Tiara have worked on a few projects together, although Lena reports to Javier Arroyo, Specialist I, and is based in the W. W. Hagerty Library, and Tiara reports to Nancy Spedding, Specialist II, and works from the Hahnemann Library.

The students aren’t the only ones who benefit from the WorkReady Philadelphia partnership, though. The program also provides staff with new mentorship opportunities and aligns with the Libraries’ mission to inspire learning within the Drexel and Philadelphia communities.

“We have so many projects going on right now, but no summer work study students from Drexel to help us, so this is a great opportunity to get additional support while teaching high school students about IT,” Javier said. “This is my first time working with the program, but I’ve loved exposing Lena to a field she’s not familiar with. We need more women in technology roles like this, and it’s amazing to watch her get excited about different projects.”

This is also the first time Nancy has participated in the WorkReady program.

“I haven’t done anything like this before,” she explained. “When Drexel announced they were funding intern positions through WorkReady, I got really excited about the idea of working with a high school student and thinking about what I could do to help them prepare for their futures—encourage them and teach them some really practical skills before they even get to college.”