Unique Morris-Hughes
Unique Morris-Hughes, D.C. Department of Employment Services' interim director (Courtesy of Walker’s Legacy)

Summer isn’t just a season of daily walks on the beach or picnics at the park, but for some people, especially young adults, the warmer months are a time to gain extra spending power or work experience.

But whether you need or want a summer job, where you look for one will matter almost as much as what you do, according to the District-based personal finance website, WalletHub which took an in-depth look at 2018’s Best Places for Summer Jobs.

Orlando, Florida, ranked as the top place to get a summer job, followed by Scottsdale, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Dover, Delaware; and Wilmington, Delaware.

Portland, Maine; Las Vegas; Austin, Texas; Columbia, Maryland; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, rounded out the top 10.

The District placed 25th out of the 182 cities surveyed — up from 36th a year ago.

When Marion Barry founded the summer youth employment program in his first term as the District’s mayor in 1979, he envisioned a program that would support youths transitioning from school to a career, Unique Morris-Hughes, interim director of the D.C. Department of Employment Services, wrote in an editorial last year.

Exactly 40 years later, Barry’s vision has thrived, and the summer youth employment program has evolved into something more than just a way for young Washingtonians to earn summer pay, Morris-Hughes said.

Officially named the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, the initiative serves as an entry point for participants into the private sector and federal and local government agencies.

The program also incorporates training in financial literacy and professional development.

Through a partnership with JabaTalks, a D.C.-based tech firm, program participants can use their mobile devices to prep for job interviews and connect with potential employers via an online platform.

Along with expanding the program to include young adults up to age 24, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser launched the Mayor’s Opportunity Scholarship, which allows 25 summer youth employment program participants ages 18 to 24 to earn a scholarship to pursue postsecondary education, occupational training or military service, Morris-Hughes said.

“Summer employment programs have become critical pipelines to engage the nation’s youths and put them on a path for career longevity or further education,” Morris-Hughes said. “The District long ago recognized the importance of investing in youth employment and preserving education funding.”

According to figures from the mayor’s office, nearly 11,500 young people participated in MBSYEP in 2017, working more than 1.3 million total hours.

The program is set to begin on Monday, June 24 and end Aug. 2.

MBSYEP is locally-funded and provides District youth with high-quality work experiences.

Morris-Hughes said the summer youth employment program is especially important for young residents in Wards 7 and 8, where the unemployment rates, although declining, are still the highest in the city.

The bigger the investment, the greater D.C.’s economy grows as summer youth employment programs and postsecondary education prepare youths for competitive and in-demand jobs in industries such as information technology, health care and infrastructure, she said.

“In 2016, nearly 50 percent of summer youth employment program participants secured employment by Dec. 31. Many of the participants we surveyed found the program to be a rewarding experience,” Morris-Hughes said.

For the full WalletHub survey on the best places for summer jobs, click here.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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