Voices Article

Five things I want young people to learn this summer

PYN Voice

This week, the WorkReady Philadelphia summer program kicks off with thousands of young people around the city participating in work experiences focused on developing the skills that they will use no matter what career path they choose in the future. With each new work experience, youth are faced with many opportunities to grow and learn from their mentors and supervisors, all within different industries and all focused on the following tangible skills: Teamwork, collaboration, self-directive, initiative, productivity, accountability, flexibility and adaptability. For all the young people out there: no matter the next step you take on your professional journey, these skills are timeless and the mastery of each of them will only increase your chances of excelling.

Each summer I am energized and proud to see the many achievements earned by youth participating in WorkReady, and although each learning opportunity is unique and important, here are the five things I hope each young person learns this summer:


In today’s job market, employers are more and more looking to hire for attitude and train for skill, so nurturing ambition and taking initiative are key components to a successful early work experience. Every day, practice being positive and open to the ways you can learn from the tasks you like and those you don’t like as much. Your willingness to tackle projects and work hard will give you a step up and your co-workers will notice it too. Be a sponge. Absorb as much as you can during these six weeks and don’t hesitate to ask questions.


Goal setting at the beginning of your six week work experience will not only help you stay engaged while you work, but can also serve as a motivation outside of work. Knowing what you hope to learn and how you hope to grow will help guide your interactions with others. Don’t be afraid to engage with the adults around you, and when you feel comfortable, ask if they would share some of the goals they are currently striving towards. We are all working to improve as we grow. The beauty of goal setting is that you are the one in charge. Goals can change as you do, so don’t be afraid to set and reset your goals. Go ahead! Set small, attainable, short-term goals to prove to yourself that you can accomplish what you set your mind to. There is no greater feeling than achieving a goal that you worked hard towards.


Whether you’re working at a bank or a summer camp, try to find something about your position that you’re passionate about and give 100 percent to learning as much about that task as you can. Maybe you really like working with people and found a passion for customer service, or perhaps working with money is something you enjoy and a position

in finance is what you would like to explore. Whatever your passion is, allow it to take you to new heights. Talk to your supervisor about how you can further pursue opportunities that you are interested in and show your interest by mastering the skills that accompany your passion. Your supervisor will be impressed with your desire to learn more, and most importantly, you will be one step closer to becoming the very best version of yourself.


It’s okay to feel like things aren’t going well in your work environment sometimes. Every successful person has had a challenge or two they had to face. Just remember, it is not how many challenges you have, it is how many challenges you get through. Persistence, positivity and perseverance are the tools you need to transform challenges into victories. Your attitude and your skill are your greatest assets when facing a challenge. Choose to stay focused, positive and be solution-oriented. Problems are always going to arise in the workplace, but the trick is to find a way to manage those problems in a professional manner, and more importantly, learn from them.


No matter what your summer position is, your personal and professional brand are always on display and they are yours to own forever. Everything that you do at work is a reflection of your brand: projects that you turn in, how you work with others, and so much more. In order to make excellence your signature, work hard and believe in yourself because when you do that, there will be no stopping you!

PYN Voices
by: Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend
Jul 05, 2016

About Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend:
With a commitment to increasing young people's access to life-changing opportunities, Chekemma Fulmore-Townsend joined the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) in 2005. As President and CEO, Chekemma is charged with overseeing the organization's vision, mission, and overall direction. Drawing on more than 15 years of experience, Chekemma has used her social work foundation in macro-practice with a concentration in research and non-profit administration to influence the way PYN views its work and decision-making processes. Before her appointment as President and CEO, Chekemma served in various capacities throughout the organization; most recently, she was PYN's Vice President of Program Services. In this role, she led a team accountable for program design, implementation, evaluation, compliance, and continuous improvement for all programs managed by the organization which serve more than 15,000 youth annually.

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