Careers: Job market for HS students shrinking

With summer around the corner, 16-year-old Symphany Kennedy isn’t thinking about taking a break. Instead, she’s got her eye set on a second summer internship.

“I’m going there, and I’m bringing home a paycheck every week, and I’m learning stuff,” said Kennedy, a junior at Delaware Valley Charter High School, who spent last summer at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “I’m not losing any time to hang out with my friends either. It’s very flexible.”

But Kennedy and thousands of young people could miss that opportunity. WorkReady Philadelphia, the citywide youth employment system run by the Philadelphia Youth Network, could go from 11,000 positions last year to 5,500 this year due to a loss in stimulus funding. PYN has launched a campaign to preserve some of the positions.

Independence Blue Cross, one of the region’s leading employers, is among the list of employers who insist the program is priceless.

“The internships are a win-win on all sides,” said John Clayton, IBC’s workforce development manager. “The students get to grow, learn and succeed. They get exposed to new careers, new opportunities, They get to use their skills, and we get their energy; we get their dedication, and they do work.”

Kennedy said she valued the 16 hours a week from her internship more than a part-time job with more hours.

“Interning is better than doing a regular 9-to-5, because you get to learn different skills and talk to different people,” she said. “It’s just a good opportunity to have you first regular work experience.”

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