New York State Museum
Salary: $14 per hour.
About the New York State Museum: Operated by the State University of New York (SUNY), the museum pairs a research center with a large slate of ongoing and featured exhibitions that include art, historical artifact collections and other media. It offers after-school services for elementary school-aged children in Albany, and teen programs in which youths work on applying for college, work with younger youths on academic and recreational activities, and help around the museum. The teen program pays first-timers minimum wage and increases the pay in each additional year they participate.
His Job: Bennett, a Brooklyn native and social welfare major at SUNY-Albany and a former volunteer for the museum’s teen program, is in charge of organizing the time of the 12 teen participants. (There are currently 12.) Bennett personalizes each teen’s schedule. For example, if one participant has college applications due soon, that person’s museum workload might be reduced. Bennett is also the link between the teens and the staff.
“A lot of the time I just spend bonding with them, talking,” he says. “I’m not much older than they are, so I can relate to them a lot.”
Best Part of the Job: “When you see some type of development with them. They’re on time when they didn’t used to be, or a paper comes back with an ‘A’ that you helped them with. Also, when they confide in you.”
Worst Part of the Job: “Dealing with the attitude with some teens.”
Memorable Moment: “One of my students, Cory, was slackin’ in some areas. He was going through issues financially. A week [after joining the program], he was calling me, opening up to me a lot. Now he’s making a lot of progress with college applications and everything, and he told me how much I’ve helped.”
The Community: Before coming to school in Albany, “I thought it was like a suburb. But there’s a lot of poverty, a lot of crime.”
Connecting with a Youth Worker: “They love that I’m from the city [New York]. They ask about city life, city slang.”
Recruiting Teens for After School: Most of them “think they have better things to do. So you offer money as incentive that can turn them around. That gets them in, but that doesn’t keep them there. The interim report card has to come in for the paycheck to continue; [final] report card too. And for every F, they’re docked two days’ pay. If they get tutoring, they get reimbursed for part of it.”