Each summer, Applied Development makes an important hire. For a number of years, we have participated in the YouthWorks Hire One Youth program. This division of the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Economic Development summer job program offers high school students in Baltimore the opportunity to work in businesses across the city. This summer, Mercy High School student McKenzie Strong joined our team.
McKenzie is one of over 8,300 students placed at 700 worksites through the YouthWorks program across Baltimore. The Hire One Youth is set up specifically for businesses willing to pay the salary of the summer interns. From the beginning, participants get real-life experience of the hiring process. YouthWorks pre-screens participants for skills and interests, and employers conduct interviews with potential candidates. While we often focus on the hard skills that someone needs for a job, this hiring process exposes youth to soft skills like teamwork, collaboration, and professionalism in the office.
Students work Monday through Thursday for five weeks, earning a salary. As with many Baltimore YouthWorks participants, this was McKenzie’s first time in a workplace or office. “This is my first job and I knew that because of my age YouthWorks would be the best option,” says McKenzie. In addition to the actual job placement, YouthWorks participants receive training in areas like career exploration, goal setting, conflict resolution and stress management, and office etiquette. McKenzie says that she’s learned something very practical, like how to keep her work in order, but also something that’s hard for a lot of employees to do: speaking out when a change is necessary.
Internships provide a valuable way for young people to get work experience. Results from a study done by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace indicate that employers place “more weight on student work or internship experiences than
on academic credentials,” and some industries see having an internship as critical during the hiring process. At Applied Development, we believe in close working relationships and active mentoring. These practices have helped our business grow, but are also important for the growth of our employees. McKenzie says that one of her highlights of working here as been “gaining a good relationship with my mentor, Shanna Davidson.”
McKenzie also says that working at Applied Development has helped her career plans. She knows that she wants to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) when she graduates high school and start her own business. She says that seeing and learning about our CEO Kimberly Citizen’s journey to being a business owner has been inspiring.
We are also always inspired by our Baltimore YouthWorks interns. They bring energy to our office and a fresh perspective on our work. We enjoy being able to share our mission of championing the rights of people of all abilities to work and communicate effectively, and see how our interns take that message with them in the future. And as a company committed to Baltimore, we also take pride in being able to help ready a new workforce for future employment.