Brooklyn Teens Gain Critical Job Skills through Summer HEAT
Every spring, high school students are faced with the challenging task of finding summer jobs. Many students want to work but find that employers are not eager to hire teens for the few months of the summer. For four years, Summer HEAT, the borough president’s program that reaches out to employers to Help Employ Ambitious Teens, has worked with Brooklyn employers to give teens a valuable experience in the workforce.
This year, 142 students between the ages of 16 and 18 participated. In preparation, many attended a business etiquette workshop given by the Junior League of Brooklyn, an organization focused on empowering women and training volunteers. Here, the young Brooklynites learned to create resumes and cover letters, got tips on dressing appropriately for the office, and practiced job interview skills. Pamela Antoine Weekes, president elect of the league, said that she believes Summer HEAT is a “stepping stone for the future for these students.”
After going to the workshop, the students were prepared to take their posts.
Yves-William Ferrier, a sophomore-to-be at Boston University, landed a job at CampFriendship. During the summer, he prepared a banquet for a youth baseball team, organized a picnic for a football league, which about 3,000 kids attended, and put together a wrestling program, hoping to create ten weight classes for 6 to 13 year-olds. “It’s a way to keep them active and have them start developing skills early,” he said. His supervisor, Bill Solomon, said, “Whatever he’s been given, I’ve been impressed with Yves’ willingness to put in the extra time and make it work.”
Over at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Richard Drucker, Senior Vice President of External Affairs, assigned students to various tenants in the Navy Yard. One of them, Daisy Roman, 18, was placed at Steiner Movie Studios, where she was lucky enough to observe a scene being shot for Spike Lee’s latest film, Inside Man, with actor Clive Owen. She talked to the producer who gave her some tips. “I learned about things I didn’t know before,” Daisy said. “You may start from the end but you get to move up to the top.”
Katherine Podkalicki, 19, returned to Summer HEAT for her second summer. This year, she worked at Mark Morris Dance Group where she worked on a dance video preservation project funded by the Dance Heritage Coalition and organized hundreds of books donated by famed dancer David Von for a library. With her help, dancers now have more books and films of choreography available for study. Katherine also worked on an exhibit for next spring that will showcase dance photographers from the 1980’s. “I like the theater, anything that has to do with art,” she said. “I like the idea of preserving art. When you know about these things, people think you’re smart.”
At the Prospect Park Alliance, Crystal Seaman was taught a different kind of art: the art of dragonfly identification. Crystal worked on a collection for the Audubon Center. She helped aquatic ecologist Jules Ginenthal catch dragonflies on the lake, and learned how to identify and preserve them for the collection. Although she sometimes got down and dirty when removing weeds from park plantings, Crystal, who is very interested in conservation and animals, was happy with her job. Con Edison sponsored two Summer HEAT jobs in Prospect Park this year, including Crystal’s.
Additional HEAT employers or sponsors for 2005 were ACS/NYJP, AM&G Waterproofing, Aramark-Ellis Island, Astroland Amusement Park, Bay Ridge Federal Credit Union, Bedford Stuyvesant YMCA, Better Brooklyn Community Center, Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service, Brooklyn Central YMCA, Brooklyn Heights Montessori School, Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chef’s Choice, Citi Storage, Connecticut Muffin, Flushing Dental Associates, Greenpoint YMCA, Home Depot, Independence Community Bank, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Kings County Hospital, Kleinfeld, Lassen & Hennings, Lentnek Management, Maimonides Medical Center, Marcus Garvey Nursing Home, Naidre’s, Nathan’s Famous, New York Aquarium, New York Congregational Nursing Center, New York Methodist Hospital, North Fork Bank, Prospect YMCA, State Senator Kevin Parker, Steiner Studios, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Starbucks, Sysbro Inc./Golden Krust, Target, Time Warner Cable-STAR Program, Toys ‘R’ Us, Washington Mutual, and Woodhull Hospital. A number of the young people also worked at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
Roselenn Richardson at work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation’s archives.