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You Never Know Where A Job Will Take You

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Shyam Nooredeen knows that you can never tell where a job will take you.

In 2010, Shyam was a high-potential high school senior when he was accepted to the PENCIL Fellows Program, which provided him with career readiness training and helped him secure a paid summer internship to practice the professional skills he'd learned -- and to develop new skills that come only from real work experience.

As PENCIL Fellows, Shyam and his peers spent their summer cultivating their professional skills: they learned about personal branding, networking, how to dress for success, office communications and the skills and values needed to excel in today's workplace.

It's a program that addresses an immediate need. This summer, more than seven in 10 U.S. teens will be without a job, and in New York City the teen unemployment rate is 35.6 percent. Summer jobs correlate with increased income and better job security later in life -- by hiring teens, businesses invest in the future.

Shyam is proof of how enriching that investment can be. While working at Meringoff Properties, Inc., Shyam distinguished himself and, when the program ended, Stephen Meringoff, the Chairman of Meringoff Properties, Inc., hired Shyam as a part-time employee.

Shyam could only work part-time because he was going to college: he got up at 3:00 a.m. and left the house at 5:30 to make it to class. In the afternoon, he'd head right to the office, where he kept learning, growing and excelling. You can watch him tell his story about his experience with Meringoff Properties in the video below:

But Shyam's journey with Meringoff Properties wasn't over. Because of his experience at Meringoff, he decided he wanted to transfer to Pace University, because it had a stronger business program than his current college. Stephen Meringoff helped him with the application and when the tuition bills started to stack up, his boss helped him find a way to manage them.

Shyam's story is just one of many life-altering journeys that PENCIL Fellows have experienced -- and another addition to the body of evidence showing that meaningful summer employment can be life changing. We've placed nearly 600 Fellows at companies over the last five years, and they unanimously agree that the program has shaped their plans for the future. Our research also finds meaningful improvements in work skills, self-efficacy, teamwork and professionalism. Many of them have gone on to accept full- or part-time positions at their host companies once the program is complete.

This summer, nearly 100 PENCIL Fellows are working at businesses throughout New York City. But there are countless other students just like Shyam who demonstrate the same potential that he did. Like Shyam, they deserve the same opportunity to develop their professional skills -- and the only way they can really do that is on the job.

We tell the wonderful companies that participate in the PENCIL Fellows Program that their involvement isn't philanthropy -- it's an investment. Shayam is certainly proof.