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BGCB’s vision for RTW is more than just about career readiness; it’s about cultivating a nurturing environment where every young person can realize their potential and embark on a path to success with confidence and support. As BGCB continues to nurture future leaders, the impact of these programs will resonate far beyond the walls of the clubs, contributing to a brighter future for all its members.

As the Director of Workforce Readiness at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB), Jen Medina is a pivotal figure in shaping the future of youth engagement and career development within the organization. With a deep commitment to expanding the scope and reach of BGCB’s Ready to Work (RTW) program, Medina is dedicated to enhancing the career readiness of young members through innovative and inclusive strategies. Her role involves not only overseeing the program but also actively enriching it by integrating diverse internship opportunities that cater to the varied interests and aspirations of the Club members.

These opportunities are carefully curated to ensure they provide meaningful, real-world experience that significantly impacts the participants’ professional and personal growth. Through her leadership, Medina is setting a robust foundation for countless youths to explore,

The Reach of Ready to Work Internships

This year, under Medina’s guidance, RTW has about 240 participants, with a goal to double this number by 2028. The range of internships spans from healthcare to culinary arts, finance, and beyond, illustrating a diverse spectrum of career paths being forged.

The impact of internships through the Ready to Work program is deeply transformative for BGCB club members, fostering not only career skills but also personal growth and self-confidence.

“It’s always their badge. Any internship site that I’ve ever visited, that’s the first thing that they show me like, ‘look at this!’ If they’re in an office, they always show me their office, or their workspace. That’s the first two things they get excited about,” explains Medina.

Jen Medina Director of Workforce Readiness with RTW Fellows

The work badge is a symbol of our Club teens’ official role in a professional setting, a significant milestone and a source of immense pride for them.

“They’re here hanging out at our teen center and then get to have an internship at Boston Children’s Hospital. It’s that type of jump where it’s like, wow, I just had to do this program and now I’m here,” says Medina.

Teens’ enthusiasm extends beyond the physical symbols of their roles. They express a newfound confidence and a sense of belonging in the professional world. The program’s structured environment and the realistic standards set by employers help cultivate a professional demeanor in the young participants. Employers do not merely provide a job; they actively nurture these young adults, acknowledging their potential and fostering an environment where they can thrive.

“Our employers really hold them to realistic standards with the understanding that they are young adults, and they really want to coach them,” Medina chimes in.

The Ready to Work internships serve as a crucial stepping-stone, transforming theoretical aspirations into tangible experiences. For many participants, these opportunities represent their first foray into the professional world, offering them a glimpse of what their future careers might hold.

This experience is invaluable, providing both motivation and a practical framework to help them navigate their future career paths. Through these opportunities, BGCB Club members not only gain practical skills but also learn to envision themselves as successful professionals, equipped to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the future.

Medina and Ready to Work Fellows at their Fidelity Internship

Expanding the Reach of the Program

A significant challenge that has persisted throughout Medina’s time as the Director of Workforce Readiness has been finding adequate internship placements for members of the Gerald and Darlene Jordan Club in Chelsea.

Being Chelsea residents, Jordan Club Members often face barriers to accessing Boston city-funded internships due to stringent residency requirements. These opportunities are typically reserved for Boston residents and Boston Public School students, leaving Chelsea youth at a disadvantage.

Medina has been particularly vocal about the need for inclusivity and has been working to amend these policies to ensure equitable access for all members.

Ready to Work Fellows at internship site

Salina T: An Example of Dedication and Resilience

For the first time in BGCB history, a Jordan Club member and Chelsea resident has been placed in a City of Boston funded internship this year.

Salina T. is a current Ready to Work Fellow at the Jordan Club and has been heavily involved in Ready to Work for many years.

“Salina. Yeah, she’s an MVP. She’s been active in Ready to Work, and when I say active, I don’t mean just showing up. She was always engaged when I used to do Ready to Work virtually. She was showing up on a Zoom full of 100 plus teens and didn’t even care if she was going to give the right or wrong answer. She was engaged. She was present, if we had events, she was there,” says Medina.

Salina’s journey with the Ready to Work program is a testament to her commitment to growing and developing through programs at the Club. Her involvement goes beyond mere participation; she has been an engaged presence in every session, contributing actively and taking full advantage of the program’s resources. Her enthusiasm and dedication have made her a standout participant, deeply involved in learning and always ready to take on new challenges.

Salina T. Jordan Club

Salina T. (Middle) pictured working with Jordan Club Members

Salina has always expressed an interest in pediatrics within Ready to Work since she started in the program and has been working towards her future career in pediatric medicine.  

Recognizing Salina’s potential and her specific interest in pediatrics, Medina took on the challenge of facilitating an ideal internship placement for Salina. Her commitment, care, and deep belief in Salina’s capabilities drove her to advocate fiercely for an exception. 

“I went on a whim, and I was like, listen, we have this teen, she’s been an MGH scholar since freshman year,” says Medina. “To my surprise the coordinator was like, you know what, let’s actually give it a try.” 

“We celebrated for so long because we’ve never seen this before in Ready to Work with Chelsea teens,” Medina explained.

The culmination of these efforts was Salina’s placement in a summer internship at Boston Children’s Hospital, a leading institution in pediatric healthcare. This placement was not just a personal victory for Salina but a groundbreaking achievement for the BGCB and its Jordan Club members.

It marked a significant step forward in making transformative internship opportunities accessible to a broader range of Club members.

Salina T. Jordan Club

Salina T. at Ready to Work event

This success story underscores the importance of personalized advocacy and the impact of committed leadership in expanding opportunities for all youth. Salina’s internship at Boston Children’s Hospital is not only a launchpad for her future career but also a catalyst for other Club teens to follow in her footsteps

Looking Ahead

As RTW continues to evolve, its focus remains steadfast enhancing the scope and quality of its offerings. Medina’s leadership is characterized by a proactive and responsive approach to the needs and aspirations of BGCB’s youth, ensuring that the program not only adapts to current demands but also anticipates future trends and opportunities.

In essence, BGCB’s vision for RTW is more than just about career readiness; it’s about cultivating a nurturing environment where every young person can realize their potential and embark on a path to success with confidence and support. As BGCB continues to nurture future leaders, the impact of these programs will resonate far beyond the walls of the clubs, contributing to a brighter future for all its members.

Curious to learn more about BGCB? Learn more and get involved today.