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Hartford Youth Get Summer Internships Through Community-Supported Program

Yalines Herrera, 15, participated in the Summer Youth Employment Program last year, and is again participating this year.
David DesRoches
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Connecticut Public Radio
Yalines Herrera, 15, participated in the Summer Youth Employment Program last year, and is again participating this year.

Nearly 200 Hartford students will be spending the rest of their summer working, thanks to a paid internship program funded by the state and several nonprofits.

Yalines Herrera, 15, participated in the Summer Youth Employment Program last year. She said if she wasn't getting a job this summer, she’d probably spend her summer at home.

"I'd really probably be at my house, doing nothing,” she said. “This gives me an opportunity, like, to do something, instead of just staying home all day on my phone."

Herrera worked at It's A Gee Thang barbershop and salon last year. She made friends, and she learned some basic job skills, like time management, dressing appropriately, and taking initiative.

That's part of why this program exists, said Lena Rodriguez, president and CEO of the Community Renewal Team, or CRT, which administers the internship program.

"There is a thing called job readiness, which is a big part of the summer youth program,” Rodriguez said. “This is basically most people's first job."

About 40 employers have committed to hiring the teenagers for about six weeks.

Dee Mitchell, owner of Empress Beauty Spa in Hartford.
Credit WNPR/David DesRoches
/
Connecticut Public Radio
Dee Mitchell, owner of Empress Beauty Spa in Hartford.

Dee Mitchell owns Empress Beauty Spa, and said she's hiring because she wants to encourage young girls to become entrepreneurs, like her.

"I like that they're getting young people out of the house, off of the video games, off of the streets, you know, things that they shouldn't be into, and influencing them to work,” Mitchell said. “And then hopefully, into a field that they're interested in. I know for someone like me, I'll continue to be in touch with them, continue to mentor them if I could, and just build like strong relationships."

Some teens are more prepared than others, said CRT's Rodriguez. But all of them were preselected out of an applicant pool of about 400, so they're already standing out. 

David finds and tells stories about education and learning for WNPR radio and its website. He also teaches journalism and media literacy to high school students, and he starts the year with the lesson: “Conflicts of interest: Real or perceived? Both matter.” He thinks he has a sense of humor, and he also finds writing in the third person awkward, but he does it anyway.
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