This summer the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) continues to fund the Summer Career Exploration Program, at North Light Community Center located in Manayunk, as a part of the citywide WorkReady summer jobs initiative.
Through North Light’s teen program, more than 50 students attended the orientation day, practiced mock interviews and reviewed their resumes.
Those accepted into the program got a tour of the Community College of Philadelphia Main Campus and professional development training. This year one student, Shaun Oliphant, stood out as a phenomenal participant. Although childcare was his first choice, the WorkReady staff felt Journey’s Way would be a good fit for his internship.
Oliphant is a rising sophomore attending Walter B. Saul High School in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia. Shaun aspires to go to college after high school.
When asked what he would like to pursue in the future, he responded, “I’m still learning and growing and figuring out my place in the world.”
While describing his experience at Journey’s Way, he said, “I was warmly welcomed when I arrived at Journey’s Way. They have been encouraging and I have learned a lot during my short time here. Journey’s Way has a lot of programs and activities for senior citizens. I learned how important volunteers are to a place like that. They can’t run without people helping out.”
His desire to help others shines at his internship.
Karen Rouse, his primary supervisor, explained, “I was initially impressed by his polite and friendly manner and soft spoken personality. For a young person, Shaun had observations about the world and perspective about things and events … it made me realize that he could relate to older adults and would be open to listening, learning and also sharing his thoughts and experiences.”
"Shaun’s positive attitude and excellent work ethics stand out. He comes in each day and asks what he can do to help and does not complain. He is easy going and works with a smile. As his WorkReady specialist, I have seen Shaun constantly working, helping his supervisors, and doing anything he is assigned to do. He also helps conduct bingo with the vice president of Journey’s Way, Gloria Wilson.
Wilson also offerered praise for Shaun's work
“Shaun is a give-all ... He learned how to call (bingo) and he calls, which gives me the chance to enjoy the game because I very rarely have the chance to enjoy it. We appreciate Shaun and he has been very helpful. We’re going to miss him,” Gloria said.
Shaun’s typical day at Journey’s Way is very busy. Karen describes that he “is willing to help out wherever he is needed: working at the front desk, copying and collating, serving in the kitchen, running errands, calling Bingo, helping in the garden, and sometimes ‘trying out’ the new equipment in the fitness center.”
One of the goals of the WorkReady summer internship program is to help students explore their possible future careers and solidify their interests, while also undergoing professional development training such as workplace etiquette and interview training. Shaun is one of 52 students participating in this year’s program.
For Shaun, “Being in WorkReady has been a great experience and a chance to learn different things.”
WorkReady is a citywide effort to address the skills gap by convening partners, employers, leaders of youth-serving systems, and youth to build a coordinated approach to preparing young people for future employment. WorkReady stakeholders seek to give young people ages 12-24 access to a meaningful paid work experience that promotes self-sufficiency, connects youth to caring adults, and offers the opportunity to build the transferable skills required to secure and sustain employment. The Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) manages the WorkReady program. For more information, visit www.workready.org.
North Light Community Center is a multi-service, community based non-profit organization located at 175 Green Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19127. Founded in 1936, North Light's mission is to empower people of all ages and abilities in our communities, especially those most in need, to reach their full potential as productive and responsible citizens through initiatives that support and enrich children, teens, and families. For additional information about North Light's programs and services, visit northlightcc.org or call 215-483-4800.