By: Missa Perron
Do you remember your first job?
As members of the Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ initiative, we sure do. These memories simultaneously make us laugh, cringe, and fill us with a sense of pride. After all, it’s the first job that can set the foundation for one’s career path. The first job is important.
San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee understands this. In 2012, the mayor responded to President Obama’s call to create youth employment, and created the Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ initiative to connect local young job seekers with companies seeking youth employees. The initiative has already connected more than 34,000 young people (mainly at-risk youth from low-income backgrounds) to jobs and professional development opportunities. “We must continue this investment into the future,” said Mayor Ed Lee.
United Way Bay Area is proud to be a partner of this initiative, along with San Francisco United School District, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families. This powerful partnership allows us to collaborate on presenting two flagship events each year to support youth employment: Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ Challenge, as well as the Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ Resource Fair.
During this year’s Jobs+ Challenge, we were thrilled to stand alongside Mayor Ed Lee and listen to companies from the public and private sector pledge to employ 5,550 youth this summer. Our hearts were full as we listened to the youth speakers, particularly a young man named Hawkins. “The Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ program pointed me in the right direction. With their help and tireless encouragement, I put my past behind me and started focusing forward,” he shared to a room full of watery eyes.
We were grateful to be in the company of more than 400 similarly inspiring youth at this year’s Resource Fair at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco. More than 300 volunteers offered their time and expertise as they offered workshops, provided expo tables, reviewed resumes, and interviewed youth at the fair.
“I was hoping I would have a connection with somebody, and I did,” beamed Saria, a student with her eyes on landing a job at Macy’s. She was excited by the chance to fine-tune her interviewing skills and feels confident that she will secure a position soon.
Working shoulder-to-shoulder in these efforts with the Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ initiative is an incredible opportunity to support the next generation in the workforce. We hope that someday these youth will look back and fondly remember their first job, too.