Youth Summer Employment Program: Meet Lilly

Oakridge Neighborhood

Lilly & the Des Moines Social Club

Every summer Oakridge Neighborhood provides employment opportunities for low-income high schoolers, including ten weeks of paid, part-time experience at nonprofit and public agencies. The Youth Summer Employment Program (YSEP) has immediate benefits- staying busy and earning a paycheck- but countless long-term benefits as well: YSEP participants know the value of work, the value of giving back to the community and how academic achievement is essential to one’s career goals. This summer we decided to hear back from some of the participants and see what they learned throughout the summer and how they have benefited from the program.


“I spent the summer working as an intern at the Des Moines Social Club under the direction of Brand Watkins, their Director of Development. The first day I remember feeling a combination of nervousness, anxiety, and excitement, mainly because this was my first job! From that first day forward, I learned how to do a variety of tasks, such as: working with spreadsheets, researching marketing information, proofreading pamphlets, filing, and even painting.

Coming into the Des Moines Social Club without any previous job experience, I expected to discover and learn how to develop work skills, as well as hot to handle particular information. For example, I have learned how to successfully and proficiently conduct research on surrounding organizations situated in Des Moines, how to nearly organize information, so it’s accessible and useful, and how to efficiently and professionally set-up workspaces for incoming guests and performance groups. However, although I learned several valuable skills that will help me in the future at other jobs, I also indirectly absorbed other important social and life lessons. For instance, I learned what to do and how to handle situations when clients or guests approached me with question or concerns. I also learned how to be socially respectful and believe appropriately in an office setting with coworkers and supervisors; and maybe most importantly, I grasped how vital it is to always have a positive attitude with everyone–both in and out the office.

Working at the Des Moines Social Club has prepared me for future employment and career opportunities. Now, I can converse with strangers and coworkers in a professional manner while maintaining eye contact the entire time! Plus, I gained experience with various technology tools that companies currently use, as well as a new sense of appreciation for the arts and how they truly impact the Des Moines community. Leaving the Social Club will be sad, but I will be able to leave with a fresh perspective and a better sense of how non-profit organizations operate and thrive.

I want to thank Oakridge for giving me the opportunity to work with such amazing people at the DMSC in the heart of Des Moines. Oakridge not only gave me an opportunity to earn my first real paycheck this summer, but they also gave me the chance to discover what kind of career I might want to pursue in the future. Thanks, Oakridge, for allowing me to embark upon this astounding journey with a talented group of helpful individuals to help me along the way.”



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