One Step Forward, Miles Ahead: Four Lessons from My Summer Job
By Artem Matatov, Summer Jobs Connect Participant August 27, 2014 02:10 PMThis post is part of a series inspired by Pathways to Progress, a Citi Foundation initiative that works with community partners, city officials and Citi employee volunteers to help low-income urban youth develop the leadership experience, professional skills and the workplace know-how they will need on their path towards college and careers. Follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Pathways2Progress
I took one step forward - and then another, and then another - and before I knew it, I was standing in front of the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner's building in Manhattan. I spent six weeks of my summer break as an intern at this building, where my experiences would translate into lasting lessons that I took with me back to school and beyond.
My paid internship at the ME's office was my first real experience in a professional environment, with duties that spanned from administrative work to preparing charts for attorneys used for testimonies and drafting case files processed in court. Looking back on my experience, four key lessons stand out:
1. Responsibility is a virtue: My colleagues trusted me to finish my projects thoroughly and with utmost concentration before forging ahead to the next task. I learned to shake the temptation of trying to juggle too many things at once - which I chalk up to the fast-paced bustling of society - and commit to producing the best possible products for my team.
2. Organizational skills are key: I learned a great deal about project management and developed an understanding of prioritization and keeping my work moving on schedule.
3. Professionalism goes a long way: I learned to hold a conversation with professionals, including learning how to show confidence through body language.
4. A dollar is worth more than just 100 pennies: When you work for your own money, it has more value to you, in turn motivating you to manage the savings and put it towards something useful.
I think summer jobs - like those offered through Summer Jobs Connect - are necessary for today's youth because they help introduce us to various professional environments and allow us to gain crucial workplace skills that will make us competitive when we launch into our careers. For me, it opened my eyes to a new field that I would like to consider in the future. Furthermore, the chance to earn money and learn to manage our funds and feel independent is an added bonus.
One piece of advice I would give to anybody looking for their first summer job is don't be intimidated - don't give up. All it takes is a first step, and then another, before you're facing what could be the experience of a lifetime.
Summer Jobs Connect, with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE), is a key program component of the Citi Foundation's Pathways to Progress initiative. Summer Jobs Connect is setting young people on the pathway to economic success through summer jobs, and with financial education and access to financial products. In New York City, CFE worked with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development to provide jobs through the Summer Youth Employment Program.