Celebrating more than 25 years of summer youth employment

Group of teens from summer youth employment program

The Summer Youth Employment Program gathered students and their mentors for a luncheon and celebration of the program at the Harvard Ed Portal. Photos by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

3 min read

With responsibilities that ranged from creating promotional content for University outreach efforts, to assisting with laboratory experiments, 43 Cambridge and Boston teens gained valuable work experience and exposure to a variety of possible career paths by working in more than 20 Harvard offices and labs this summer through Harvard’s annual Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). In addition to working in labs and offices, SYEP participants spent Friday afternoons learning real-world career skills through a series of professional development workshops at the Harvard Ed Portal in Allston.

“The SYEP program allowed me to see what it was like to work in a global academic center like Harvard: both the sheer scale of the institution and the rigor of academic activity there. I learned how to combine typical workplace skills, like managing time or using digital tools, with more academic ones,” explained Kyler Hoogendoorn-Ecker who worked in the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center.

Michelle Gordon-Seemore (right) speaks from the podium.
Michelle Gordon-Seemore (right) speaks from the podium.

“I fully intend to maintain a connection with the office I worked in this summer during my time at Harvard and it has certainly given me thoughts as to where I will go next,” added Hoogendoorn-Ecker, who is now enrolled in Harvard College as a first-year student.

“I know all our managers here are very appreciative of the chance to work with you this summer and for your contributions to so many departments across the University. We are so pleased to have you be a part of this tradition,” Harvard Executive Vice President Meredith Weenick told the participants at the program’s celebratory luncheon on Aug. 17.

Jasmine Stecker, assistant director in the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (URAF) confirmed this sentiment as she wrote of her 2023 summer intern Irene Hill. “Irene’s contribution to the office was really astounding, both in quality and quantity. She handled tasks that have been on URAF’s to-do list since before I joined the office. And what’s more, she’s left us with guides on how to continue the work she started, which will save us plenty of time in the future. I wish the program was twice as long.”

Stecker attributed part of their office’s success with the program to the team approach her office took in managing an intern and pre-planning meaningful projects that could be completed within the six-week internship. “It was definitely a group effort,” she explained.

“We are so glad that this program continues to grow and thrive. The caliber of the students who participate is remarkable, and every summer I hear from managers throughout the University about how meaningful the program was for both their department or team, and for the student who worked with them,” explained Maile Takahashi, director of Community Programs at the Harvard Ed Portal, who partners with Harvard Talent Acquisition to organize SYEP.