“Life After High School”
At Little Lights, we work with students from Pre-K through 8th grade, as well as teens who serve as tutors and summer interns. As they grow up in our programs, they receive encouragement and support from our staff and community. But what happens when they approach life after high school?
This was the focus of our first Mentoring Meeting of 2016. A panel discussion addressed the challenges young people face when they lose their support system at such a crucial time. All four of the panelists are currently working at Little Lights, and three attended our programs as children.
“The Value of Support”
All of the panelists felt supported by various people during high school – family members, teachers, and coaches. But upon graduation, that support from school was lost.
For those whose families were unable to provide strong emotional support and guidance, leaving high school meant leaving a support system.
Lack of a strong support system is one important reason why some of the panelists languished for a period after high school. One panelist, who went on to graduate from college, shared that her parents were very supportive and encouraging, setting college as a goal from a young age. Other participants said they did not have someone to push them towards their goals.
“The Value of Summer Employment and Internships”
Each panelist had worked in some form before they graduated, most of them in summer jobs through the DC (DOES) Department of Employment Services Summer Jobs Program. The group said the experiences gained from quality summer jobs helped them learn about the world of work, as well as good habits needed for success in the workplace.
However, many of them had poor experiences with summer jobs – jobs that were low quality and did not challenge or teach them practical skills. Internships for youth are important for their future, but they need to be quality programs that challenge students, hold them accountable, and teach them useful skills.
“How Can We Help?”
Those who are looking to help young people transition well into adulthood need to be ready to provide support – emotional support, encouragement, and care for the student’s well-being. This care comes in different forms, from gently pushing them towards their goals to sharing practical advice. High school graduates need a concrete plan in place before they leave high school, and they need people to help them follow the plan and stay on track.