Summer Opportunity Project Taps LinkedIn to Help Students Get Summer Jobs, Internships

Careers
Posted By Eliana Osborn on March 22, 2016 at 11:12 am
Summer Opportunity Project Taps LinkedIn to Help Students Get Summer Jobs, Internships

Going around the neighborhood looking for a summer job isn’t an effective strategy for today’s youth. College internships or jobs are stepping stones in a career. Connecting with opportunities for experience and mentorship is increasingly important, something LinkedIn has been asserting all along.

Now President Obama is asking the nation’s businesses to help the next generation through the Summer Opportunity Project. Announcing the initiative, the White House said, “for a young person looking to start off in the workforce, the prospect of finding a job with a blank resume, limited education, and no meaningful connections to employers can be daunting. A study found that last summer nearly 46 percent of youth who applied for summer jobs were turned down.” What’s more, “[r]esearch shows that Black and Hispanic teenage boys lag behind their peers in summer employment and year-round jobs. This employment gap broadens as young men get older, making them the highest percentage of the nearly seven million youth 16-24 disconnected from school and work,” according to the White House press release.

What’s more, “[r]esearch shows that Black and Hispanic teenage boys lag behind their peers in summer employment and year-round jobs. This employment gap broadens as young men get older, making them the highest percentage of the nearly seven million youth 16-24 disconnected from school and work,” according to the White House press release.

The SOP idea is to coordinate the efforts of agencies, businesses, and local governments to get more students from all backgrounds doing something productive during the summer. LinkedIn will work with small and medium businesses in 72 cities to connect them with places where they can find young people to work with over the summer. Other partners include the National Summer Learning Association, already in the field with relationships with local organizations serving those looking for work.

Summer experiences are also a time where family wealth differences very much come into play. The child of a business executive likely has connections to volunteering or work that can build a resume, while someone without that advantage has nowhere to turn for inside access. Tai Tran wrote on LinkedIn about his experience as a first generation student who participated in an initiative similar to the Summer Opportunity Project.

Tran explains how an internship through Project SELF at the city clerk recorder’s office was his first look at business skills, administrative or life skills. Simply filing and opening a bank account were new steps forward on a professional path. That experience is what Tran wrote about when applying to UC-Berkeley for college, providing him an entry into his own career. When looking for later internships, he realized he needed connections—and used LinkedIn to try to make that happen. His first contacts? People from past jobs, like that stint with the recorder’s office.

Tran’s just one example of course, but the way jobs work in the twenty-first century is all about connection. The Summer Opportunity Project is one way to help young people start building relationships that can help them long after the summer is over.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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