As youth employment rates dwindled during the early months of COVID-19, Wisconsin teen Claudia S. continued pursuing her career interests with steadfast determination. She created a podcast with her peers that focused on the immigrant experience in the United States and social justice issues, a lesson she hopes translates into her future law career and advocacy for underrepresented communities.
Claudia was one of more than 140 teens who secured virtual paid work opportunities through Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County’s first-ever Digital Career Experience. Teens worked remotely in various fields including business, finance and social services to help bridge the gap for local teens who typically depend on summer jobs to support themselves and their families.
“My Digital Career Experience Internship this summer led me to invest more in my passion. It led me to become more of an advocate for minorities being treated unfairly by spreading awareness of this national conflict and gaining more knowledge on this issue,” - Claudia, a rising high school senior.
More than 90 percent of Digital Career Experience participants were teens of color. They worked with local companies like Dane County Government, Madison Gas & Electric and NAMI Dane County. Teens were separated into cohorts to own a project from start to finish, with the goal of developing foundational skills like communication, collaboration and problem solving. They split time between in-person group work and Zoom e-learning either individually or with others.
“Even online, I formed new friendships that I could relate to my experience as an immigrant woman of color,” said Claudia, who is from Honduras and bilingual. “I could express myself comfortably.”
Participants were expected to work 8 to 10 hours a week, and some teens were eligible to receive school credit for an employability certification program.
“Our goal is to match young people with organizations in Dane County for paid internship opportunities that would allow teens the opportunity to learn, grow and develop skills while building a social network for their career path,” said Boys & Girls Club of Dane County President & CEO Michael Johnson.
Robert N., who attended the Boys & Girls Club as a teenager, recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BFA in Animation and Motion Graphics. During the summer, he interned with Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County’s Development Team to leverage his extensive expertise in web development and digital content management.
Robert mainly assisted the team with enhancing content on the organization's website. His positive attitude and proactive nature positioned him as an internship standout, his Club mentors said.
“This internship has helped me grow in different areas I thought were lacking, such as my leadership skills, my coding skills, collaboration and communication,” - Robert
Through workforce programs like those at Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County, teens are better equipped with the tools and skills needed for great futures - no matter what life throws at them. We are responsible for providing equitable access to meaningful opportunities while celebrating the value our teens bring to the table as employees,” said Taylor Jackson, director of career & leadership development, Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County.
Even during the pandemic, Clubs are continuing to find ways to ensure kids are not left behind.
Learn more about how Boys & Girls Clubs are preparing young people to become work- and life-ready.