Staff Writer Houdah Daniels
In the months leading up to summer, many high school students were finishing up their CVs and searching for jobs. While some students sought opportunities through the ASL supported program, WorkX, which allows students to apply for short-term work experiences, others applied for more typical 9-5 jobs or volunteer work.
Sam Holzman (’19) worked two jobs this summer: Prairie Fire Barbecue, where he also worked last summer and Hagen Manufacturing, a metal factory run by his uncle. The paid manufacturing job entailed hours of laborious work where Holzman and his team formed parts for industrial markets by cutting metals and putting pieces together. While Holzman is not looking to work in the manufacturing field as a career path, his experience doing so gave him insight on the realities of the working world. “There are so many millions of people that work [in laborious jobs] for a lot less money, for 10 hours a day for 50 years of their lives and they don’t have a lot of the luxuries that I have like going to school,” he said.
Holzman credits his parents for encouraging him to work a job he was not intending to do in the future, as it served as motivation for him to pursue a career of his choice. “I’m only in this position because my parents put me here,” he said. “I now have more motivation to work harder [at school] and have a job that’s not manual labor.”
Like Holzman, Anisa Cooper (’20) was also motivated to pursue her career goals after she interned at Barclays, a placement she received through WorkX. Cooper recognizes her particular strengths in math and science wanted to take advantage of the opportunities that they may serve. “I’ve always been interested in doing something with finance so I thought this would be a good place to go learn about it,” she said. “I also [wanted] to get a head start on what working is like.”
Can Suyur (’20) interned at Coca-Cola European Partners, having applied through WorkX, and said his experience could be best described as a “descriptive company tour,”. “We were just briefed on every single aspect of the different departments such as I.T., Diversity and Inclusion, Finance, Sales Marketing,” he said.
Although Suyur did not actively work for the company like Holzman, he said he gained insight on an environment he was not particularly familiar with. “My experience actually served as an indication of how Coca-Cola was and how a large firm operates, so my experience was good as a young worker,” Suyur said. Some of Suyur’s experience included finding effective ways to market AdeZ, a plant-based, dairy-free smoothie.
Similarly, as part of Cooper’s experience, she met with the director of Global Marketing and had to prepare a sales presentation, “which went terribly,” she joked. Despite this, Cooper recognized that this was a necessary experience as it allowed her to be hands-on with the job. Additionally, Cooper acknowledged the stereotypical “coffee-runs,” which are often associated with young workers, but insisted her experience was far from that. “They really make an effort to make it informative and child-friendly, but I think that’s because so many people do [internships] now, it’s just a regular part of the work chain essentially,” she said
Like Holzman, Kendal Fass (’19) also worked two jobs: she spent a two weeks working at the ASL summer camp in the basketball and swimming program and did four weeks of volunteer work at The Osborn, a retirement community in Rye, New York. While Fass was paid for her work at ASL, she insisted that her greater takeaway was the “experience working with the younger students and giving back to our community as a whole.” Fass is an avid basketball player and used her knowledge to help teach the younger students how to play.
A special aspect of Fass’s volunteer work in the rehabilitation department at the retirement community was that it allowed her to spend quality time with her grandmother, who is a resident there and was undergoing physical therapy. “That really gave her motivation to work harder because she saw me there and I could encourage her, which then helped me to translate that to other patients,” she said. “It was really being able to be with my grandmother, spend extra time with her and also help her get better, which then I could for other people as well.”
For both Fass and Holzman, being the youngest at work did not take away from either the impact they made or the experiences they gained. Holzman insisted that he was treated the same as how others were treated: “If I messed up they would tell me I’m wrong and they wouldn’t sugar-coat it,” he said. “Nobody looked down onto me. When I needed help, they gave me help and respected me enough to do my own work.”