In Baltimore, youth are the heartbeat and pulse of our city. It is exciting to live in a society that is well-equipped to prepare the next generation of leaders for lucrative careers in which they can achieve their fullest potential.

Despite this, during the recession youth suffered heavily from opportunity loss along with other segments of the population. Even in the sectors of leisure/hospitality and retail trade, which typically dominate youth employment, job applicants nervously faced the possibility of denial. A sometimes polite, other times curt response of  ‘no, thank you’ or ‘sorry, we’re not hiring’ was often accepted in the wake of oodles of overqualified applicants who were willing to take a pay and/or skill reduction in order to make ends meet.

Fortunately, as the general unemployment rate steadily declines (hovering slightly below six percent statewide), youth employment has increased greatly. Summertime is traditionally the height of student employment. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), over a three-month period between April and July, national summer employment for ages 16-24 increased by 2.1 million people or 11.5 percent. More than half of young adults in this age bracket held jobs last month with almost half of that figure working in retail trade and/or leisure and hospitality industries, 19 percent and 25 percent respectively.

Seasonal programs in the local area dedicated to assisting youth with their employment needs are plentiful. The Baltimore City YouthWorks program is an initiative of the mayor’s office that connects local employers with motivated students for summertime opportunities. Participants, whether local businesses or teens, can benefit from the motto “summer jobs launches careers,” as hard work is poured into cementing a rewarding short-term experience that could lead to long-term career success.

Baltimore county residents ages 14-21 can participate in a similar program spanning six-weeks during the summer months and pending availability of funding. Pre-employment training is taught by the Community College of Baltimore County to guide students on their path to career-readiness.

Plan early and take advantage of these and/or other opportunities to help young adults truly reach their full potential.

Keisha Oduor is a professional writer and entrepreneur who resides in Baltimore, Maryland. She has a degree in Communications and French from New York University with work experience in publishing, nonprofits, healthcare administration and program management. Her work can be found on


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