After School Matters, But So Does Money


Chicago youth can use ASM as a tool to gain job experience and connections, but it is not the best outlet to make a lot of money.

The teenage years are a time of exploration and discovery – part of this is learning how to build your resumé, go out for interviews, and land yourself a job. Besides the already stressful task of job hunting, kids also have to weigh the pros and cons of the two prominent options given to youths in Chicago: the paid internship of After School Matters (ASM) or the traditional route of working retail, among other things.

After School Matters is an organization whose main goal is to get kids off the street, out of their homes, and into programs to give them real-world education and working experience. These opportunities usually run all year, but are most closely associated with the summer, serving to give kids’ free time purpose.

Brelynn Lowery ‘17 said, “Before I was old enough to apply for a real job, I worked at the urban farming program in Grant Park. It gave me something to do and even though it didn’t pay very well, I can put it on my resumé for experience.”

Experience is one of the main benefits that attracts young people to ASM; from ages 13 to 18, kids can build up a portfolio including previous bosses that can recommend them for any of their future endeavors.

Former ASM interview conductor and program overseer Amanda Deisch said, “[Kids] can take advantage of specific programs that involve what they see themselves doing as a career. Based on that, they can gain knowledge of that field and make connections with people that could transcend into a future internship or job.”

ASM has a plethora of paying programs with focuses ranging from mathematics to science.

Current ASM employee, in the ComEd Youth Ambassador program, John-Christian Moore said, “I’d always been interested in science and engineering, and this is basically a hands-on class that qualifies as an internship.”

Although these experiences may entice youths, due to some people’s financial situation or priorities they would rather make more money in exchange for working a “regular” job.

Some need the extra boost in pay in order to prepare for the now rapidly-approaching college life.

“I’m going to be contributing to paying for some of my college tuition,” said Isaac Silver ‘16, who works as a host at Francesca’s On Chestnut. “So, I need all of the extra money that I can get.”

However, even with the benefits of extra income, working in the real world every day can be tasking for a student.

“The hours aren’t too bad on their own, but I usually end up working after a long day of school, still having to plan out when I get my homework and studying for classes in,” said Silver.

Amiracle Johnson ‘16, who works for Chipotle agrees. “Working for so long after being in school can be exhausting. After you become mentally drained from school, you’ll go to work and end up physically drained to add on to that stress.”

But still, she prefers the prospect of a regular job than one of an ASM program.

“I need to be able to have money to spend on myself and my priorities, so working a job gives me the independence that working at a place like [ASM] wouldn’t give me,” said Johnson.

Regardless of the path someone takes, they will end up in a situation that allows them some amount of income as well as on-the-job experience; but, it is up to the individual as to whether they value exploration of various fields in ASM or the financial stability of working a traditional job.