Youth internship opportunities help shape Atlantic City’s future

By Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver
Atlantic City | Aug 12, 2019 at 5:00 am
Op-Ed

To help sustain the progress Atlantic City is currently experiencing, the next generation of civic and commercial leaders must be cultivated from among the city’s 10,000 children and young adults. The Atlantic City Transition Report determined that efforts to tap into and develop the tremendous potential of the city’s youth should involve expanding recreation, education and career preparation opportunities, including summer jobs and internships.

A February 2019 Developmental Assets Profile survey of more than 800 city youth between fourth grade and 12th grade supports this determination. From the survey, the city, state and community stakeholders have learned that Atlantic City’s young people want more options for activities throughout the summer months. They also reported that they need more constructive ways to spend their time, resources to develop a better sense of their own strengths, and a stronger sense of community support.

To this end, the city, the Department of Community Affairs’ Atlantic City Initiatives Project Office and members of the Atlantic City Executive Council set about creating summer employment and internship opportunities for the city’s youth.

This summer employment program is a new start, with both summer jobs in City Hall and internships with anchor institutions and businesses in the city. We’ve been working to build pathways to success, and this initiative is a key building block because it engages young people in their own community and reinforces career goals.

In the first week of July, 66 high school- and college-aged students began summer youth employment and internships at City Hall. The young people participating in summer youth employment range in age from 14 to 18 and those participating in internships are ages 18 to 24.

Later in July, an additional 30 plus college-age young people began internships outside of City Hall with such institutions as Stockton University, Atlantic Cape Community College, AtlantiCare, South Jersey Industries, Volunteers of America and the Atlantic City Arts Foundation. The Arts Foundation internships are being funded by and done in collaboration with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. The focus of these internship positions is to expose students in Atlantic City to professional work environments and job duties.

Truly, a city that invests in its youth is a city that thrives, generation after generation. Therefore, we expect to build on the progress of this summer employment and internship program in the years to come.

In conjunction with these efforts, the South Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Atlantic County and Atlantic City have embarked in the creation of a new pilot workforce development program that will focus on young residents of Atlantic City. This pilot program will seek to provide mentorship and job coaching services to Atlantic City’s youth with the intention of placing them in internships in the private and public sectors.

Atlantic City has seen a large transformation over the past year as Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration put in place a strategy guided by the Atlantic City Transition Report to help the city develop and grow. A subsequent implementation plan prepared by the Atlantic City Initiatives Project Office establishes a schedule, deadlines and deliverables to physically carry out the work. Both documents offer a prescription for building on city strengths and overcoming challenges and include nine pillars for action and a structure for executing action plans at both the state and municipal level.

One of those pillars is youth development through career and education pathways to success. By offering these summer employment and internship opportunities, Atlantic City, the state and community are developing young talent by providing the necessary tools they will need to succeed in today’s workforce. By passing knowledge from one generation to the next, and making an investment in the city’s future, our youth will succeed. These programs and approach are a core strategy of the Murphy administration to help build a foundation for a shared prosperity in Atlantic City.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver serves as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, which oversees Atlantic City under the Municipal Stabilization and Recovery Act.

ROI-NJ Staff | editorial@roi-nj.com | @ROINJNews