Good summer jobs keep Long Island young people on track

For Jason, the Nassau County Summer Youth Employment Program is so much more than a paying job. It is a second chance for the teen who is trying to turn his life around. He was charged with menacing his mom last year but good behavior has allowed him to get back on track.

A sophomore at SUNY Albany, Jason works five days a week. He said that while he works, other people his age sleep or play video games. He is getting valuable office work experience sorting and filing assessments—something that may be useful to the 18-year-old who hopes to one day become a real estate investor.

"I've heard of summer programs similar to this one," he said. "I was recommended through the youth court so I figured it'd be even better to have such a good, reliable source as a recommendation."

Participants ages 14 to 21 were chosen by agencies, including the Departments of Social and Human Services, to take part in the program. For the first time this year, a handful of students, including Jason, applied and were also selected from youth court.

"Once they see that there's dignity in work, that they have somewhere to go, that they're a productive member of society, they keep on that trajectory," Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said. "And that's what we're hoping for, especially for our youth."

"The beauty of this program is that these young people get a great hit on their resume and they also get experience," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. "How to interact in the office, how to dress, how to look people in the eye and shake the hand."

The Summer Youth Program started in 2012. Under the new county executive's leadership, the program has 70 participants, which is 30 percent more than in the past.

Ayush, who was chosen by Nassau County's Office of Youth Services, is going into his freshman year at Hofstra University. He said the job pays well and teaches him responsibility.

"I make good connections here, I get to meet new people," Ayush said. "The workshops are really helpful."

The program helps youngsters with tips and tools to succeed in society.