Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Student Testimonials: What we are fighting for.

Tony Shen, class of 2008

Describe the summer of your junior year in high school.

Well, I did a lot of nothing. I stayed up late surfing the web, I woke up late, sometimes with migraines, and I spent a lot of time in front of the television. I played a lot of basketball, which was fun, but after that, the day usually just went downhill. I couldn’t wait for school to start up again. I wanted to travel and do things around the city, but I was BROKE! I looked for a job for the longest time, but no one was really hiring or was interested in my abilities.

What happened during the summer of your senior year?

To start off, I was actually informed about an internship possibility at state street corporation by my PIC office coordinator, and went through an interview and application process. I got the job, and looked forward to working in the WMS department, which was something I was interested in. I learned a lot from my job, including how to work in a team environment, how to use the JAVA computer program, and how to effectively build and maintain websites with extensive databases. I still was able to play basketball and enjoy myself, but in addition I felt like I had a purpose in life and was making something of myself. It was a life changing experience.

There are proposed budget cuts in Massachusetts for the type of program that helped you get your internship. How does that make you feel?

This cannot happen, for sure. I wouldn’t wish my junior year, which was filled with inactivity and hopelessness, on my worst enemy. Having an internship as a high school student is very empowering, and made me, and surely other people, focus on potential future employment and aspirations. This doesn’t only negatively affect the students, but also the employers, who I feel benefit from our presence in the workplace. They are happy to teach us and share their knowledge, and sometimes we can do things that they cannot.

Julian Jean-Pierre, class of 2010

Julian Jean-Pierre is currently a senior at the prestigious Boston Latin School, but even with a solid resume, he has been very unsuccessful when looking for summer employment both this year and last. He has applied to over 10 different potential employers, but has been turned down by 7 of them, and hasn’t received a response from the other 3. He says that this failure has greatly affected him, because he feels like “he will never get a job.” He wonders why he goes to school if he cannot put anything he has learned in to good use. Also, as a typical high school student who also comes from a poorer background, he wants money to buy thing that most of his classmates can easily afford. The whole concept just feels unfair to him. “I wonder why the people of Massachusetts are making it so difficult for me to find a job. I am 17 years old. I am still a child, and I need help.” Julian makes a very good case. We restrict teens in society and treat them like children, but when it comes to vocational experience, we leave them to their own devices.

Rondale Davis, class of 2010

Tell me about your internship experiences?

I was lucky enough to get an internship in 11th grade at Bank Of America through my PIC Office Coordinator. It was an amazing experience in which I learned about banking and account management. Not only was this helpful in terms of knowledge in the field of experience, but also helped me learn new things about my own bank account and allowed me to educate my friends and family. It was by far my most productive summer, and I felt like I was really going places in life. It was the first job I had ever held, and I felt like I excelled at it. However, because of the recession and such, I was actually unable to get an internship for this summer. All of the positions I applied for were much more competitive than ever before, and all of the spots seemed to be very limited. I cannot understand why it was not the governor’s priority to help us students. I find that us getting jobs can’t hurt anyone, and it keeps us out of trouble. I really need a job and some money before I go to college. It will look very bad on my resume if I am inactive for the entire summer and maybe for the entire year.

Have you done anything to combat this shortage of jobs?

No, but what can I do? I haven’t really heard of anyone or any type of program that is trying to help people like me.

There were marches at the state house and student led rallies that opposed budget cuts to school-to-career programs. Why didn’t you attend them?

No one ever let me know what was going on, I only heard whispers about it in the paper and on the news. Besides, who would actually listen to me?

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