Students and adults meeting at a conference table

75 High School Students Gained Real-World Work Experience This Summer Through PEF’s WorkReady Program — Spotlight on a Student Participant

By Farah Jimenez Posted: August 30, 2019

For Daniel, his high school summer internship program was a transformational experience. PEF staff visited Daniel’s high school and encouraged him to apply to be part of the WorkReady Program, a paid 8-week summer internship, facilitated by PEF College Access staff, for a cohort of 75 students.

Although he had big dreams of becoming someone who could create positive change for others, like a psychologist or even President, he was a shy student whose experience was limited to his school and neighborhood. He interviewed with Philadelphia City Councilmember Maria Quinones-Sanchez’s office and landed the job. Daniel was excited about the opportunity but also very concerned about getting to City Hall from his Northeast Philadelphia home — he had never taken public transportation before. “I can’t do it and want to quit,” he told his advisor. But PEF staff set him up with a SEPTA card and walked him through how to use it and navigate the system. He rose to the challenge and, in fact, never missed a day of work or arrived late. During his internship, his projects included researching issues like poverty and violence as well as learning about laws in Philadelphia and how they differ from other cities.

Over the course of the summer, PEF staff saw a change in the way Daniel interacted during their weekly group professional development sessions. In the beginning, Daniel didn’t participate, but over the course of the summer he began to open up and share information about himself with the other students. During a goal setting workshop, he told the group that he struggled in his home life and that his #1 goal was to have a safe home. That summer internship in City Hall, out of his neighborhood, allowed him to gain experience in a professional environment, meet new people, and earn money – some of which he planned to put toward furniture he needed.

PEF will repeat the WorkReady program in Summer 2020 for 50-75 rising high school seniors, with an increased focus on the students’ postsecondary options. As in 2019, WorkReady will offer participants a paid work experience; PEF workshops on budgeting, financial literacy, goal-setting and time management; college trips; a speed networking experience with industry professionals; and a graduation ceremony.

Contact Liz Nolan lnolan@philaedfund.org for more information on becoming a 2020 WorkReady work site.