Drexel University President John Fry addresses a room of WorkReady students and their Drexel employers at an event on Aug. 14. Photo courtesy Sarah Colins.
For the past 15 years, 322 teenagers living, working or attending school in West Philadelphia and the West Philadelphia Promise Zone have spent their summers working at Drexel University as part of the WorkReady summer internship program. The citywide initiative connects teenagers with employers for six-week paid internships, and the 40 young adults who spent their time at Drexel this summer were recently recognized by the University community.
On Aug. 14, the teenagers and their employers sat down for breakfast and celebrated all that was accomplished over the past year.
Drexel President John Fry and Philadelphia Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell were on hand to congratulate them on their hard work and to thank them for their commitment to Drexel and the city of Philadelphia.
“I talked to a number of people that you’re working for and they had nothing but great things to say about what you’ve been able to do, how hard-working you are, how quickly you’ve been able to pick up what we’re doing here at Drexel, which is a pretty complicated place, and how much you’ve added value,” Fry said at the event. “So, from me, thank you for doing all of that. Summer at Drexel is a very, very busy time. There’s a lot to do to get ready for the rest of the year, and we’re grateful that you were able to pitch in and help us.”
This year, the teenagers worked across 28 different departments at the University, including the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, the Office of the General Counsel, EAT Café, the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services Clinic and Enrollment Management & Student Success.
“Our mission is to serve not only our students but to serve our entire city, which is why a lot of these areas are in parts of the city where we’re providing additional support and services to those in need,” Fry told the teenagers. “You’re also helping us with summer camps, lots of administrative support, you’re staffing front desks, you’re doing research, you’re doing billing — you’re doing everything imaginable, and some of those tasks are very complex.”
When Blackwell took her stand at the podium, she remarked that she wished she had the opportunity to go to school at Drexel and told the teenagers in the audience to continue taking opportunities like the ones that got them on campus.
“Once you leave Drexel, the sky’s the limit,” she said. “People know you’re prepared, they know you’re ready, and they know you know how to do the job and do it effectively. And that’s so much of what Drexel University brings you. And it’s at the heart of all that’s important in this city.”
Fry also noted that in the past, WorkReady participants have gone on to attend Drexel for college. Additionally, he referenced how this program would help both the teenagers and Drexel itself become more involved in the Philadelphia community. He also
“We’re making a commitment to your future, and in doing so we’re making a commitment to the future of Philadelphia, because you are the future of Philadelphia,” said Fry. “This is a city with so much potential and so many good things that are going on, and so many challenges and so many difficult things that are going on. We really need this next generation of youth to get educated and to step up and take their places in society here in Philadelphia.”