CDL Debaters Serve as Paid Interns in Broadening Summer Jobs Program

The Chicago Debate League offered its unique Summer Jobs Program (SJP) for CDL debaters this summer for the second consecutive year.  Fifty-seven students from twenty-two schools participated in the four-week program, which ran July 6-30.  Participating students earned $7.75/hour for 30 hours of work per week, totaling $930 for the program.

There are two parts to the SJP.  In the first two weeks, students work as interns in offices of elected officials, law firms, city agencies and non-profits around the city.  In the final two weeks, the debaters attend the Chicago Debate Summer Institute at Westinghouse Prep.

The internships provided a wide variety of opportunities.  Participating employers included several Illinois State Representatives and Aldermanic offices from across the city: Congressman Bobby Rush, Senator Jaqueline Collins, State Representative Ken Dunkin, State Representative Monique Davis, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, Alderman Latasha Thomas, and Alderman Leslie Hairston.  Other internship opportunities included the Austin Chamber of Commerce, and law firm partners of the CDL such as Mayer Brown, McDermott Will and Emery, and Querry and Harrow. $53,000 was raised, with all funds paid as student wages, from city of Chicago and CPS offices and funded through federal stimulus funding for teens. The Chicago Public Schools Office of Support and Engagement, with the prominent leadership of Sylvia Nelson Jordan, initiated, designed and administered the program, with CDC support.
Amy Kozy, Director of Marketing for Querry and Harrow, evaluated her firm’s experience with the SJP, “The CDL Summer Jobs Program intern who joined us in July, Sofia Sheikh, seemed to appreciate and gain from the experience. Our firm found it to be a positive relationship as well.  We are very interested in participating in similar opportunities in the future, including bringing Sofia back for an extended period of time.”

Jim Dorrell, head coach of the Marshall High School Debate Team, pointed out the valuable impact this program had on his students. “We had nine of our debaters take part in the CDL Summer Jobs Program.  I’ve talked with all of them since the end of it, and to a person, they reported having a very good experience, during which they learned about both real-world professional environments first-hand, and about competitive academic debate and this year’s topic at the CDSI. This is a great example of the extraordinary opportunities that the CDL offers the public school students in this city.”