Student Workbook: Real Jobs, Real Stories

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Youth Communication
32 pages. $8. Resource Kit with one Leader’s Guide, 20 anthologies, 20 workbooks: $450 + $45 shipping.

These 33 true stories were written by New York City young people from diverse cultural backgrounds who worked intensively with editors at Youth Communication, a nonprofit youth development program. First published between 1992 and 2008 in one of the program’s magazines, New Youth Connections or Represent: The Voice of Youth in Care, these personal accounts by writers ages 15 to 25 illuminate the world of work, from part-time or summer jobs to internships and full-time career opportunities.

Among stories about work culture is “Working on My Boundaries,” which shares lessons learned after aging out of a foster group home. Christine McKenna describes burning out from working two jobs while attending college, becoming too friendly with supervisors, and being unable to refuse the unreasonable expectations of one boss.

Stories on managing money include confessions of a designer clothes “junkie,” a primer on banks, and a cautionary tale by a college student engulfed in credit card debt.

A section on finding one’s career covers training, higher education and paying dues. Youths in today’s bleak job market will resonate with “Young and Hungry,” in which Joseph Alvarez’s exciting start in film editing at HBO ends in a layoff and years of odd jobs before a lucky break.

Whether humorous or poignant, these stories ring with voice and honesty. The book ends with firsthand accounts about jobs in politics, a hospital, as a bicycle messenger, and more.

A superb Leader’s Guide helps youth leaders incorporate these true stories into a work readiness program for middle and high school students (adjustable for older groups ages 18 to 24). The guide includes complete plans for seven three-hour workshops, including experiential exercises, with modifications for fewer and shorter sessions.

Utilizing the power of teenagers’ own stories to influence their peers, each session’s theme is embodied in one story from the anthology, read aloud by the group. The Student Workbook contains worksheets, fact sheets and other tools.

These adaptable sessions are an excellent choice for any out-of-school environment. Where programming isn’t possible, the youth-authored anthology alone will resonate with young people finding their way into the working world. (212) 279-0708, ext. 115; http://www.youthcomm.org.