Eleven young journalists from Youth Opportunity Boston, a city agency that provides employment and training for Boston youth ages 14-21, visited the Harvard News Office Aug. 4 for a daylong lesson on Harvard, journalism, and the world of work. Hosted by Assistant Director for Publications John Lenger, the young adults put out a newspaper on youth employment called YO Journal.
“It’s been exciting to watch the YO Journal staff develop into working journalists,” said Lenger, who also teaches journalism at Harvard Extension School. “As I’ve taught them about journalism, I’ve learned from them as well. It’s important for an editor like me to know what young people are thinking.”
At Harvard, the YO staff spent a working lunch learning about teen employment at the University. “I think that employers should encourage young people to get as much experience as they can,” said Amy Meyer, associate director of community outreach and diversity in the Office of Human Resources at Harvard.
Joining Meyer, program manager for Harvard’s Summer Teen Employment Program (STEP), were four Boston and Cambridge teens working in Harvard offices through STEP.
The YO Boston journalists, who would turn their experience at Harvard into an article about STEP, peppered Meyer and her students with questions. What kind of work do you do at Harvard? What have you learned? What do you have to wear? Are you treated with respect?
In addition, the Boston youth took a tour of the University and learned principles of editing from Lenger. Alan Stone, vice president for Government, Community and Public Affairs at Harvard, welcomed them to the University and offered some advice of his own at lunch.
“It’s important to be motivated,” he said. “Most employers want to see that you’re going to go the extra mile.”
The junior journalists, while feeling their way around reporting and producing a newspaper, were outspoken on the importance of gaining real-world work experience through programs such as STEP or Youth Opportunity.
“I feel there should be more programs for the youth,” said Jahsan Sheers, 20, of Dorchester. “What are we going to do without these programs? What are you going to do with your life?”
With Lenger’s guidance as editorial director of the project and donated printing and other services from Charles River Publishing (which prints the Harvard University Gazette), the Boston youth are seeing the fruits of their summer labor. This week, 40,000 copies of the 16-page YO Journal came off the presses; it will be distributed throughout the city to help teens negotiate the world of work.