What does it take to be successful after graduation? How can our young people use their summer vacations wisely? As a part of our Summer Career Institute and Summer Enrichment Program, our young people explored those questions with insights from Chicago’s top professionals.
The Summer Career Institute was established to expose our young people to the diverse range of opportunities that await them beyond Mercy Home. Before this program, many were simply unaware of how their future could look.
“So many youths do not get a chance to see what types of careers are out there for them, especially careers worked by people who look like them and can relate to some of their experiences,” said Marlin Exton, Mercy Home’s Director of Post-Secondary Options and Career Resources & Scholarships.
All summer, the program allowed our young people to venture into Chicago’s most prestigious and well-known corporate spaces where they learned through Q&A sessions, office tours, and panel discussions. Marlin challenged our young people to be curious and engaged throughout their visits and encouraged them to be confident about their futures.
“As they learn about reading, writing, and arithmetic, they also learn about elevator pitches, career paths, and the importance of motivation, while having a little bit of fun and seeing things they haven’t before,” Marlin said.
Running in tandem with the Summer Career Institute, our coworkers also mounted another successful Summer Enrichment Program. With extra free time over the summer, it is important that our kids stay motivated to learn and grow as individuals, taking what they have learned to be better students and better citizens.
“Summer enrichment aims to build youths’ confidence and interest in learning through hands-on projects and challenges,” explained Veronica Quintero, Mercy Home’s After School & Tutoring Coordinator.
All summer, Veronica worked tirelessly to provide our young people with meaningful experiences that prepared them for the upcoming year and the rest of their lives.
Similarly, corporate partners including Weber Grill and ComEd visited our Home to teach our kids valuable life skills like healthy cooking methods and intriguing learning opportunities like science seminars.
“In summer enrichment, youth learned about engineering and architecture; they were introduced to 3-dimensional art; we explored hygiene and self-expression; and we created snacks to investigate inclusive nutrition,” Veronica said.
From clay projects that improved patience to t-shirt designing that drove creativity, the summer vacation our young people had at Mercy Home was one of continuous leaning and experience.
“By asking youth what skills they used to complete challenges and how those skills could apply throughout the world, summer enrichment allows youth the space to appreciate their strengths and consider how they can grow,” Veronica said.
The Summer Career Institute provided opportunities to tour workspaces and included a stop at Faegre Drinker Biddle, LLP, an international law office in the heart of downtown Chicago. From their 33rd floor office space, the firm’s top attorneys encouraged our kids to reach high for their dreams.
“This is stuff I’ve never seen before!” one of our kids exclaimed while looking over the city from the law office’s window.
At the offices of TransUnion, a global information and insights company, employees shared intimate stories about how they navigated adulthood and ended up with their professional positions. At the United Center, managers guided our kids through the Chicago Blackhawks and Bulls office spaces and locker rooms, adorned with championship memorabilia and shared advice on making it in the sports industry.
And a few blocks from our front door, Google employee and Mercy Home Associate Board member Maura Carr led our kids on a tour through Google’s West Loop campus.
“It’s an integral supplement to their education,” Marlin said regarding the value of this program.
Though the industries of these tours differed, they were all led by professionals who were all once young high schoolers like our kids and who shared valuable knowledge that our young people will carry with them for years to come. Our coworkers are excited about the extraordinary benefits of this program.
“To me, this program is indispensable,” Marlin said.
We are so thankful to our family of coworkers and our network of donors who enable us to provide our kids with indispensable growth opportunities like these.