Hadjar Yousfi also contributed to the article.
The Mayor’s Youth Employment Program (MYEP), you have probably heard of it somewhere, whether it be from a friend, classmate, teacher, or just someone that you know. But what exactly is it?
To put it simply, the MYEP is a program that allows students, above the age of 14, to work in experience programs where individuals are given the opportunity to take on paid positions. The program is also offered in the summer as well where it is commonly known as MYSEP.
Traditionally, youth would be placed in worksites however, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has since shifted to a virtual format. This year, the MYEP will be running for eight weeks where participants have to take part in five required elements which include work readiness classes, project based learning intensives, micro career pathways and weekly case management meetings.
Some of the micro career pathways that are offered are introduction to healthcare and nursing, web design, data analysis and more. And for projects, participants can choose their topics to be based around social media, practicing self-care and entrepreneurship.
With the program being funded through Commonwealth Corporation, it enables participants to still be engaged in different aspects of what it means to be in the workplace through these various classes while earning money.
Kelli Collomb, who is the program director, stated that “COVID-19 influenced [the program’s] decisions in how to offer [their] programming.” She believes that the shift to a virtual format was a chance to “offer career based programming in industry based credentials” where youth can “gain skills that can be used in the workforce.”
Collomb went into detail about the program’s format this year where it is currently 85% virtual. This is because apart from the online classes, there is also a small business pilot program that is held at Malden High where a group of students that have been in-person since October are creating a business in candle making and sign making where they are learning various skills including customer service training, marketing and establishing mission statements.
Guetchina Letang, a former student participant in the program who now works part time for the MYEP in case management, explained that, “kids [are usually] placed by age into different work sites and [...] would have a job coach.” She further described that a job coach is someone who helps the students to figure out their job as well as supervise them and give them advice as they work.
Throughout her time in the program, Letang enjoyed “seeing student’s improvement especially [since] this is their first job [...] and [seeing] their excitement to work and learn.” She mentioned that the program has been quite successful over the years “because of consistency and the people that are part of the program [... are] committed to doing it.” Letang has been a part of the program for around six years, and had initially signed up just to make some money as a high school student.
Collomb added how over the years, she has seen “definitive progression in terms of someone’s career path” as she saw how students would begin a summer job and take part in work readiness classes, and years later would work in the field that they first started their job in.
Jennifer Wong, a junior at Malden High who took MYSEP last summer, “signed up for the program in hopes to explore different job opportunities in [her] local city rather than having to commute to a further workplace.” Wong added that the program was helpful when it came to “building new connections and learning new skills.” She recommends it to other students who might “[not] have a lot or any job experience.”
Adding on to that thought, Mayor Christenson expressed that from taking career readiness classes to working in an actual job, the program ultimately provides students with the opportunity to “prepare for future employment” as it gives them an understanding of what will be expected “once they reach the world beyond high school.” On top of that, it further offers students the chance to acquire an “upper hand when they enter the workforce.”
The applications for the MYEP have closed; however, applications for the summer program will open later in the month of March.
For more information on the program, click here.