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Jeff’s Job Search

Jeff HughesJeff Hughes just graduated from Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School this past month with an extremely driven and optimistic mindset: ready and eager to learn, and to make the most of his experiences at Wide Angle Youth Media as he starts CCBC this Fall.

However, after searching for part time year-round work on his own, Jeff has come to realize that there are limited opportunities for Baltimore youth seeking employment. Jeff held his first job when he was 14 years old, and has already built up a significant amount of work experience as a youth producer at Wide Angle Youth Media, despite his frustrating job search:

“I started at YouthWorks when I was 14. YouthWorks is a program in Baltimore City that actually allows kids to have a paid, real-world work experience of some sort. The experiences can vary, depending on the student’s interests. I worked for the city my first year, and after that I was a child recreation worker. I applied directly to YouthWorks for both of those years, and they paired me with work placement. I don’t think there are any other successful ways to find work as a 14-year-old here in Baltimore. YouthWorks provides a great service, but it is limited in its capacity; YouthWorks only employs students seasonally, so it’s not steady work. I have very few criteria when I search for jobs, because I know that it is unrealistic to be picky. I would literally do any type of work now, as long as I can physically get to the job. Transportation will be another obstacle for me once I have a job, as it is for many other youth in Baltimore, but I can’t worry about that yet.

Jeff FilmingI have more experience than many of my peers, due to attending programs at Wide Angle and through Youth Works, but I have never even had an official job interview though, so I don’t know what my experience does for me now. Everybody in my position is in the same boat.”

Teen unemployment is above 20% for the 4th consecutive year. Jeff needed to be reassured that he was moving in the right direction. He had sought out his own valuable experiences through Wide Angle and YouthWorks, and even asked Wide Angle staff members to help him craft a competitive resume.

“I am very outgoing and friendly, I am good with my words, I am intelligent and I can manage money and I am a fast learner. I wish people would actually know about my skills. Potential employers aren’t hearing what I am saying and what I have to offer. I am frustrated. As youth, we do not have very many resources at our disposal when it comes to finding jobs.

When I find a position online, I send in my application and then immediately call to confirm that it has been received. Usually, when I call, I am told that there are no positions available, and that is painful to hear. I know it takes courage to call again and again.”

Jeff is concerned about the situation for youth in Baltimore.

“I would tell younger students looking for work to go out on a limb, like I have been doing, when they are searching for work. It is hard, but you have to be tough. You will get rejected a lot, and all you can do is hold out hope and have confidence in your own skills and abilities. As youth, we can contribute in a meaningful way to any workplace. I maintain hope for my situation, but I don’t know how to help younger students with limited experience.”

Here at Wide Angle, we are confident in Jeff’s abilities and believe he will be a great asset to any employer. We are also an official Youth Works site, we employ up to 6 students every summer through the Youth Works program. Our students are passionate about youth jobs in Baltimore, learn more about our Mentoring Video Project youth jobs documentary that is in progress right now!

  • http://ginferrara.com Gin F.

    I sympathize with Jeff’s frustration, and am impressed with the professionalism of his job search — not everyone calls the employer back. I hope things change, and more young people find meaningful employment.