We all remember being seventeen and looking for the best ways to fill our summer, enjoying the Jersey Shore or idling at home with friends while off from school. However, trends have changed and it’s increasingly common for students to spend summers honing their professional skills. Summertime employment has shown not only to be a great opportunity for young people eager to learn, it has had tremendous benefits for communities as a whole.
For the past four years, Jersey City has proven this notion through the Jersey City Summer Internship Program (JCSI). Created in partnership with the city’s private sector, the program provides youth enrolled in local Jersey City public schools with access to meaningful opportunities that offer direct experience in the workplace and instills students with the confidence to be prepared for entrance into an increasingly competitive job market.
Through a truly collaborative effort, the Office of the Mayor and the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation in partnership with the Jersey City public school system and the city’s leading companies and non-profits have succeeded in empowering students to make informed collegiate and career-based decisions through JCSI. Notable organizations that have already dedicated time and resources to this endeavor include Fidelity, Tropicana, Dixon Leasing, and JPMorgan Chase.
The program recognizes the powerful impact that initiatives like JCSI have on communities saying, “Summer jobs are essential learning tools for our youth and provide a positive activity for the summer months, which is why we have made this program such a focus. By teaching young people professional development through real-world experiences, we are providing them with more than a job – we are empowering our young adults with lifetime skills and strengthening our community as a whole.”
The JCSI program will commence once again this summer. As a whole, the program is composed of three key elements. The first is a paid internship where eager students apply and interview for open slots. Each JCSI participant is placed in a six-week internship (Monday, July 10th through Friday, August 18th, 2017) at a Jersey City company or non-profit that will expose them to a wide range of professional paths. Participants spend Monday through Thursday at their internship and receive a stipend as part of their experience. Through this process, students not only partake in a professional context, they learn essential life lessons and helpful practices including, financial responsibility, time management, and leadership.
Cobby Walters, JCSI candidate selection volunteer and HR professional for Dixon Leasing—a real estate investment trust and leasing company specializing in townhomes across Jersey City, Manhattan, and Brooklyn—explained, “Being able to donate my time as part of this rewarding program has been a treat, to say the least. I urge more companies in Jersey City to participate in this program, which has been nothing but a success for us and our amazing interns!”
A private company with a long history of involvement in Jersey City and surrounding communities, Dixon is a three-time sponsor of the program and one of many premier companies leading the charge to empower the city’s youth.
Moving from a financial sponsor in 2015 to a host in 2016, Dixon has pledged to continue hosting an increasing number of student interns, recognizing the powerful impact that the program has created for participants and peers alike.
Rebecca Symes, General Counsel for Dixon explained, “Though Dixon Leasing has been a financial sponsor of JCSI for three years, last summer was our first experience hosting JCSI interns. I wish we hadn’t waited so long. The interns were smart and capable – they made many meaningful contributions during their time with Dixon Leasing.”
The second element of the program is professional enrichment; a key aspect to drive inspiration and enhance interpersonal communication. On Friday mornings, students partake in tailored enrichment workshops, which emphasize professional and soft skills in addition to receiving direct mentoring from involved staff members. Lastly, participating students earn academic credit in partnership with their respective Jersey City school. By offering academic credits, students see their efforts extend past summertime as the program underscores the importance of staying in school.
Shreya, a senior at Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School, is one of the many Jersey City students hired by Dixon Leasing through the JCSI program. During Sherya’s time at Dixon, she actively participated in the daily routines of each department within the company. From architecture and acquisitions to marketing and legal relations, Shreya was exposed to a bounty of unique experiences, all of which tasked her with individual assignments and responsibilities. Through her experience in a professional work environment, Shreya developed valuable work skills and potential career ideas.
“Applying for JCSI was a great decision – I had so much fun and learned so much in the process. A lot of students just stay at home during the summertime, but I was able to earn the opportunity to build my resume and network with real professionals. Dixon welcomed me with open arms and I’m excited to take the lessons I learned and apply them moving forward.”
For the past four years, JCSI has proven that providing access to professional mentorship and impactful job development has the capacity to guide youth on the path to a position in today’s workforce, laying the building blocks for a long-term career and a promising future.
Companies interested in supporting the Jersey City Summer Internship Program can contact the program’s coordinator Luis Pacheco at (201) 547-5511 or [email protected]cnj.org.