12/11/2012 03:33 pm ET Updated Feb 10, 2013

How NYC Businesses Help Local High School Students Get to Work

Successful businesses understand that it's best to make investments early. And that's why so many of New York City's top firms are investing in local high school students through the PENCIL Fellows Program: investing in our students now and developing their talents today means a better, more productive workforce tomorrow.

The PENCIL Fellows Program provides high-performing high school juniors and seniors with comprehensive career-development training that includes paid summer internships. Last year, beginning with the Fellows application, more than 300 students spent over 29,000 hours learning about and developing the 21st century skills they'll need to excel in the workplace.

Students learn those 21st century skills -- like flexibility, persistence, discipline, the ability to network, and a familiarity with technology -- while experiencing the rigors of the modern job application.

To be accepted in the PENCIL Fellows Program, students must participate in training sessions, create "business-ready" resumes, and participate in at least one interview.

Aleyda Meyers, the recruiting director for the NYC Transit Authority, said that most Fellows applicants "were better than the average resume I receive from applicants twice their age!"

It's only after the application process that we approach businesses with the screened applicants. After the extensive PENCIL Fellows application process, we're confident that these students both welcome the responsibility of a job and can contribute something to their hosts. Over the last 5 years, we've placed nearly 600 PENCIL Fellows at jobs throughout NYC.

For nearly all of the Fellows, their experience that summer represents the first time that they've worked in an office. Yet despite the fact that they're just starting their careers, their time on the job truly changes them.

Last summer, we profiled three PENCIL Fellows (Anna, who worked at Davler Media Group; Rasheen, who worked at American Airlines; and Kevin, who worked at HBO) in a recurring series called the "2012 PENCIL Fellows Web Diaries." At the end of the summer, we asked each of them to sit down with Gayle Villani, PENCIL's vice president of programs, to discuss their experiences:

Hearing them speak about last year's experiences makes me excited for the hundreds of students who are applying for the Fellows Program now.

The first round of applicants will start hearing if they're accepted to the program in February at the earliest. That's also when they'll start to learn where they'll be working that summer.

The next round of applicants will begin the same process in February, and will hear if they're accepted in late spring.