Providing access and opportunity to young people who have neither is not a new concept, but it is as important now as ever. Yes2Jobs is helping to create a solution to that problem.
"We've got to prepare this pipeline so that there is always someone ready to walk in and fulfill these jobs," said James Staten, Yes2Jobs executive director.
LeadersUp connects diverse youth with jobs in corporate America
It began in the mid-80s, and at its peak helped over 2,500 minority high school students find summer internships in the entertainment industry, exposing them to various jobs in the industry, but also introducing the industry to an untapped pool of talent - like three-time Grammy winner DJ Khalil.
"It was amazing to learn in a professional setting to understand like, all the different jobs that were actually in the music business that I had no idea," said DJ Khalil, a Yes2Jobs mentor.
In the early 2000s the internships were put on pause. Seeing the need to restart the summer internship program after 17 years, the COVID pandemic hit, so Yes2Jobs shifted its focus from internships to training and exposure seminars online It is still focused on entertainment, but broadening the opportunities to other industries.
"The other day, we did a Zoom about biotech and I knew nothing about biotech and it was so interesting to learn about, you know, how there are different little niches for even people in journalism to kind of be in that field," said Marley Rhodes, a Yes2Jobs participant.
"You've got to actually show them what's out there and what's available to them," said Staten. "It's no longer everything has to be in front of the camera or in front of the mic."
'Think outside the box': UCR recruiter gives college grads tips on job hunt
Once their eyes are opened to the idea of a career in whatever field they choose, a life's trajectory can change and the young person moves to a position where they can hire people.
"We're learning from the younger generation. I feel like that open dialogue is really important, so it's not just us mentoring but we're also getting the information too because they control where the music business is going go it's not us," said DJ Khalil.
In many cases, an internship will go to a college student because that person is generally ready for hire immediately, but opening doors for high school kids, Yes2Jobs creates a lasting change in how they see their future as a wage earner.
"You can do what you want to do and break out in that field really amazingly through this program," said Rhodes.
For more information on Yes2Jobs, you can visit their website: www.yes2jobs.org
MORE: College students, here are tips to find a job virtually