Tips for the New Employee – Job Skills for Teens

Congratulations! You’ve landed your first job as a paid (or possibly unpaid) employee!  You’re one of the few. The proud. The useful. Whether you’re babysitting or filling lunch orders, here are some helpful tips to keep your job and become a highly regarded worker by your employer (think references!)

Lifeguard on duty

1. Be on time. On time doesn’t mean, ‘on time’. On time means 5 minutes before you’re supposed to be there. Employees who are dependable are looked upon favorably by employers and being punctual is one of the best ways to prove you care about your job.

2. Don’t talk/text/browse on your cell phone while working. Steer clear of the temptation to chat by leaving your phone in the car or at home. Your employer is not paying you to socialize with your family/friends. They’re paying you for your work. This is one of the biggest pet peeves employers and customers have about staff.

3. Work as if everyone’s watching. It’s easy to slack off when it seems that no one is paying attention. Your hard work, regardless if people are watching, will set you apart from those around you.

4. Smile. Check your attitude. Enthusiasm about your work cannot only help you get through the day, but improve your relations with customers, co-workers and your boss. It’s simple, but if you look as if you have better things to do, you might just get the opportunity, whether you like it or not.

5. Dress appropriately and be clean. Present yourself well! People appreciate neatness. Especially if you’re serving or making their food.

6. Don’t spend excessive time socializing with co-workers or visitors. People may want to come visit you while you work, but taking time to talk excessively with them or to give them ‘free’ things is not in your job description.

7. Think ahead. Do tasks that you haven’t been told to do yet. As a wise man once said, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.”

8. Be ready to take criticism. Listen, ask questions and adjust as necessary. It might be hard to take, but criticism can help you improve.

Work is a great way to build up to what you ultimately want to ‘be’. Use each opportunity as a stepping stone for the next. Having a positive job experience can lead to strong references and support for the next position you’d like to hold. As a last rule of thumb, be the worker that you’d want to manage.

Any others we might have missed? Comment below!

Wyman’s TLP Graduates, Head to College

For seniors in Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program (TLP), last Friday night was more than just the beginning of another weekend.

Instead, it marked their graduation from TLP and the beginning of their journey into higher education. The attending teens were all high school seniors, and their TLP graduation was concurrent to their high school graduation. Through TLP, these graduates possess knowledge of inestimable value: that, with the right resources and support, they are capable of achieving success well beyond the classroom.

Tim Kjellesvik addresses the crowd of teens and parents

Only five years ago these teens may have claimed that the thought of attending college was only a dream. Coming from economically disadvantaged communities and facing the uncertainty of lower life opportunities, these students—though bright and full of leadership potential—were at risk of continuing in a cycle of poverty that their circumstances often dictate.

But, in 7th grade, they were nominated for TLP; then, after submitting an application and participating in an interview, they became part of a program that focuses on building leadership abilities while exposing teens to the resources they need to be successful in life.

Now, five years later, they must say goodbye to one another as each and every one of them graduate high school and continue onto higher education. These seniors are on their way to colleges like Truman, SLU and Washington University, as well as other institutions across the nation.

This exemplary record of high school graduation contrasts sharply with the average graduation rates of 82% in the teens’ schools last year. The difference is a tribute to the effectiveness of the supports provided through TLP.

“Anyone that is part of [Wyman] has, in some shape or form, helped me to become who I am today,” Jarrid Snyder, a senior, reflects. “[They] motivated me and got me where I am today.”

The Teen Leadership Program was established in 2004, after Wyman narrowed its focus  on preparing teens from disadvantaged communities with the supports and opportunities they need to succeed in life. The first intensive residential experience occurred that summer, and the program—then only five years—expanded to a seven year college persistence program in 2011.

The additional two years are designed to address the financial, psychological, and institutional stress students are exposed to in their freshman and sophomore years—three crucial areas which account for up to 75% of a student’s decision to leave college.

Tim Kjellesvik, the TLP Director, has been with Wyman since the program’s inception, and is excited to see this graduating class—the first one to be a part of the college persistence program—continue in the program as they leave for college.

“Through the program, we can continue to support and encourage our teens as they make decisions to achieve the future they want for themselves,” he said. “This celebration is just the beginning for them.”Teen Leadership Program Graduation

Please join us in congratulating our teens; through the month of May, we plan to highlight each senior on our Facebook page!

Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program Conducts Spring Interviews

Last Sunday, parents and their anxious teens journeyed to Wyman’s main campus to participate in a series of group and individual interviews for Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program. Every spring, Wyman invites community partners—consisting of specific school districts and agencies—to nominate high-potential 7th graders for TLP. The interviews are the final step in the application process and are not meant to be intimidating; instead, they are simply conducted to determine if the program is a good fit for the teen.

Being relatively new to Wyman, I had never experienced the TLP interview process. The teens I generally interact with are either recent graduates of TLP or high school students. Sunday’s afternoon of interviews quickly acquainted me with an entirely new category of teens. These participants were all very young and incredibly nervous; from wringing hands to shuffling feet, every move they made seem to indicate their uncertainty.

Focused on prompting the teens to be themselves, the facilitators acknowledged their nerves but did not allow them to dominate the afternoon. Their engaging facilitation was successful; thirty minutes into the group interviews, teens were proudly announcing their school’s best sports team, defining qualities of success, and working together in various challenge course activities.

While the teens were interviewed, the parents had the opportunity to ask any and every question about the Teen Leadership Program. Tim Kjellesvik, the Director of TLP, fielded each question with respect, knowledge, and a desire to accurately explain the program. At times, he would refer to his “panel of experts”, a selection of current TLP teens that were able to provide a personal perspective on the experience.

Current TLP teens offer their experiences and advice about TLP

From the group interviews to the final Q&As, TLP’s interview sessions are intricate and well-executed processes, dependent on excellent planning and the dedication of staff members. The sessions allowed me to witness TLP teens in a way I never have before: as young, uncertain 7th graders, their TLP journey just beginning. In a few years I will know them as scholars and leaders, committed to pursuing positive change in their communities.

Teens Engage Community and Build Social Capital

Last fall, 200 seventh-graders at Brittany Woods Middle School in University City, MO met during class to plan community service learning projects they could take on to help their school or community, as part of their participation in Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program.

At Brittany Woods Middle School the program is integrated with the Communications Arts curriculum for seventh graders. Last quarter, they read a book called “Caught Between the Lash and the Gun” about a boy Wyman Teen Outreach Program teens and seniors play cardswho goes back in time to his grandfather’s era and learns that the messages our elders have for us are important. This assignment led the students to write the biographies of residents in St. Louis area nursing homes. In order to write the narratives, the teens committed to visiting the nursing homes and interviewing the residents.

The response of the residents to the teens’ project attests to the success of the initiative: after receiving the students at the nursing home in October, the residents decided to take their own day trip to Brittany Woods at the end of January. Their visit to the students was filled with games, laughter, and—most of all—community.

“The choice these students made to focus on us and involve us in their project is wonderful,” said one resident. “Our visits make me grateful that there are caring young people in my community.”

In addition to receiving the benefits of community service learning, both the teens and the residents were exposed to social networks outside of their daily routines. The teens’ service to the older residents has created a bridge between the two communities that extends beyond the biographies. This social capital, according to Bowling Alone, a book examining the decline of social capital in the United States, is a necessary component for our relational health, positive perceptions of our community, and our civic engagement. Social capital is the collective value of our social networks and the inclinations that arise from these networks to help one another. Finally, social capital is a driving factor behind the continued friendships between Brittany Woods TOP® teens and the nursing homes’ residents.

After the games, the teens awarded the residents with their completed biographies

Jamesha H., a gregarious, thoughtful TOP® teen, comments, “The first time we went to the nursing home I was nervous and not sure how our project would go. But when we started talking to [the residents] we realized that we had a lot in common and started to feel really comfortable together.”

Jamesha adds, “Our service projects have really helped me express my ideas and given me opportunities to interact with people I wouldn’t normally hang out with [sic].”

From their project, the teens experienced the immediate effects of satisfaction from completing service, support from their peers, and increased social capital. As their involvement in Wyman’s TOP® continues, the more far-reaching outcomes of enhanced problem-solving skills, leadership abilities, and self-efficacy will continue to lead to positive results in the teens’ lives.

What the State of the Union Means for Teens

Teens don’t usually get the benefit of attention from political leaders. Easily overlooked in favor of taxes, international trade, and military spending, youth development is the middle child of our nation’s issues. In Tuesday night’s State of the Union, President Obama set standards for 2012 that could improve the opportunities for and lives of teens nationwide.

Here’s a summary of President Obama’s discussion of teen-related issues and how they could impact teens nationwide:

High School Graduation

In his speech, President Obama called on every State to “require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.” The issue of education has always been high on the President’s agenda, and his call to action concerning the UnitPresident Obama gives his State of the Union addressed States’ dropout rates could not come at a better time. Many of our nation’s youth need support and guidance to receive their high school diploma, especially teens living in poverty. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s 2011 Condition of Education report, about 68 percent of 12th-graders in high-poverty schools graduated with a diploma in 2008, compared with 91 percent of 12th-graders in low-poverty schools. The reality of the effects of poverty on youth can no longer be ignored, and legislation to keep students’ accountable in their path to high school graduation could reform the United States’ education system as well as in the nation’s fight against poverty.

College Affordability

Without a means, there can be no action. For teens ready for college, this could mean that no money= no higher education. President Obama’s plan to reverse this growing reality includes asking Congress to “stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July… Extend the tuition tax credit we started…And give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years.” Understanding potential college funding revenues should also factor largely into the college affordability question; for more information on assessing student loans, see this advisory on student loans article.

Higher Education

President Obama noted one of the most important opportunities every American should have: access to a higher education. “Higher education,” he affirmed, “can’t be a luxury — it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.” Can you imagine if every teen in the United States had the opportunity to pursue a higher education? Empowering our youth to become better leaders, innovators, and citizens through a higher education will positively transform our communities, economy, and society at large.

President Obama’s outline for youth-related initiatives has the potential to create positive opportunities for America’s youth. Still, a lot of questions about policies that affect our youth remained unaddressed. What are some of the issues you wanted to see addressed in the State of the Union?

#2 – Wyman teens give back over 6,700 hours in service

11 in ’11: As we close out the year, we reflect upon and celebrate achievements for youth in our community in 2011. Check back as we count down to the new year! Click here to view the whole list!

Even one hour of community service is a lot for a teen who is also juggling homework, extracurricular activities and their social life. But for students in our community, specifically through Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program, they gave back over 6,700 in St. Louis over the course of 2011!

According to the National Service Learning Clearinghouse, youth who participate in high-quality community-based service-learning are likely to benefit in a number of ways:

  • Young people gain access to the range of supports and opportunities (or developmental assets) they need to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.
  • Increased sense of self-efficacy as young people learn that they can impact real social challenges, problems, and needs.
  • Higher academic achievement and interest in furthering their education.
  • Enhanced problem-solving skills, ability to work in teams, and planning abilities.
  • Enhanced civic engagement attitudes, skills and behaviors. Many leaders in public service today speak about how they were nurtured, inspired, and shaped in early experiences in community service or volunteering.

Congrats to our many teens who have taken time out of their busy schedules to lend a hand. You inspire us!


Looking for tomorrow’s community leaders today – Bank of America

Bank of America Charitable Foundation’s Student Leaders program is looking for young people who are passionate about making a difference in our community. If you know of any eligible juniors or seniors, send this along and have them apply before the deadline: January 25, 2012.

Since the program’s inception in 2004, Bank of America has recognized more than 1,600 Student Leaders as exemplary high school students with a passion for helping their communities. Selected Student Leaders participate in a paid summer internship with a designated local nonprofit organization where they experience first-hand how they can help shape their communities–now and in the future.

To enhance their leadership experience, awardees also participate in a week long, all-expense paid Student Leadership Summit in Washington, DC provided by Bank of America. The nonprofit internship and Student Leadership Summit expose students to leadership aspects in civic, nonprofit and business arenas.

To apply, have students visit Bank of America’s page here.


Jawn - Teen Leadership Program

This is Jawn. Jawn loves meeting new people and is especially excited to do just that as she begins her freshman year of high school. In Wyman TLP, Jawn loves doing team building and leadership exercises because she says it helps her to learn something new about her peers. And although she’s only a freshman, Jawn has her sights set on attending Drury or Princeton to study to become a neurologist.

Teen Matters: Fall 2011


smiling teens Wyman Teen Leadership Program
The Fall 2011 issue of Teen Matters is now available here (PDF)! Read on to learn about the third-year Teen Leadership Program (TLP) teens’ ‘trek’ to Tennessee, Wyman’s collaboration with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis to begin a new program, Persistence Power, and hear from one ambitious teen who has participated in both Wyman’s TLP and Teen Outreach Program.

Teen Matters is a quarterly publication from Wyman. Its purpose is to inform supporters of significant developments in the organization and its programs, and to keep them connected with the teens we serve. If you would like to begin receiving Teen Matters by mail or email contact


Wyman TeenMeet Brian. As a player of the baritone, tuba and trombone, you could say that music is Brian’s life. In Wyman TLP, Brian has gained the ability not only to be a leader, but to be a leader among peers in all walks of life. As he begins his junior year, he is excited to put those skills to the test as he faces his newest opportunity as Head Drum Major of his high school’s marching band. In the coming years, Brian is looking forward to traveling to Europe with the Missouri Ambassadors of Music and hopefully attending Indiana University to study Music Education.