News Article

PYN News Article

A First Break Benefits All

Category: WorkReady | Nov 1, 2005

George Davis, recently retired senior vice president of Lincoln Financial Group, got his first break as a teenager digging ditches at a local golf course. His boss told him "if you're going to work at something, even digging a ditch, then why not do it as perfectly as you can?" In that way, George learned a lesson that he carried with him throughout his 40-year career.

When she was 17, Endo Pharmaceuticals Chairman and Founder Carol Ammon wanted to work in health care so much that she sat in the personnel office of a hospital every day for two weeks until they hired her. From that experience, she learned that persistence pays.

While healing from a botched drive-by shooting at the age of 13, David Brown, president of BrownPartners Multicultural Marketing, discovered a passion for writing. When Walter Shapiro of Shapiro Associates offered him an internship in advertising, David turned his passion into a professional path.

Most of us had someone who gave us that first break. The Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board and its Youth Council are hoping the business community will give those kinds of opportunities to young people throughout the city.

That's why the WorkReady Philadelphia 2006 campaign, launched on Oct. 5 at the National Constitution Center, features the theme, "Who Gave You Your First Break?" I'm honored to serve as private sector chairman for this citywide effort.

WorkReady coordinates investments from government, foundations, the school district and private employers into an efficient and effective work force development system for the city's young people. In all, WorkReady provides jobs and internships for more than 7,000 Philadelphia youth.

The bad news is more than 3,000 young people remain on waiting lists each year.

Research validates what we already know to be true: work experience during high school can have major positive influences on students' academics, and can lead to better jobs later in life.

Employers benefit, by hiring tech-savvy youngsters who can work in today's technology-driven business environment; by learning about youth trends and culture for marketing and messaging; and by bringing new energy to your organization.

But the most important benefit could be the knowledge that you've helped a young person begin a journey towards a productive career. Carol Ammon said it well in her recent remarks at WorkReady Leaders Reception: "Imagine that in 15 or 20 years, you pick up the Business Journal and read a profile of a successful employer, and that individual credits you with starting him or her on the road to career success. Wouldn't that be terrific?"

You just never know what might happen when you give an eager young person that first break.

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