Over the summer, girls from Manchester and Nashua trekked across the state while on field trips to workplaces as part of the free program, Young Women’s Leadership. It is one of several Girls Inc. programs being supported this year by a 2022 Champion in Action grant from Citizens Bank. The Champions in Action program provides financial, volunteer and public relations support to local nonprofits to help support and expand their mission, in media partnership with the New Hampshire Union Leader.
To start, the girls visited manufacturers like Graphicast in Jaffrey and Hitchiner in Milford, delved into marine biologists’ work at the University of New Hampshire Labs, and learned how the city of Manchester cleans its drinking water. They experienced a college nursing program, were introduced to culinary school, and ventured upon the Mount Washington Cog Railway. While at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, the girls learned about the non-airline jobs that kept the place running, ranging from marketing and accounting to maintenance and security.
The ultimate goal for Girls Inc. is to show girls that they can go into any career, and that being a girl isn’t a limitation. Billings and Girls Inc. CEO, Sharron McCarthy, says the aim is to get the girls thinking. Camp activities are meant to give the girls practice and instill confidence in their job-seeking skills, from mock interviews to a career fair. All work and no play can make daisy a dull girl, however, that’s why the girls visit a pool weekly, regularly go out for ice cream throughout the summer, and even participate in activities like surfing in Hampton. For the younger girls, like 13-year-old Kianaly Gallego Rodriguez, thoughts may be far from close to considering a career – even difficult to imagine having to go to work. But that hasn’t stopped her from at least crossing some options off the list. “I don’t like the Manchester Water Works,” Gallego Rodriguez said. “It’s dirty!”
Regardless of where they may be in considering their future job prospects, the girls have said the summer of exploration has been fun. Some girls, like 13-year-old Jaelyn Hartford, are already sure of their eventual career destinations – Hartford is headed for the sports world for example – and instead is more focused on having fun exploring the state. She said that she’s had a fun summer and seen many places she never would have sought out on her own. Even if the girls are just goofing off together, Girls Inc. director of programming and athletics, Karen Billings, is confident the experience will leave them a little bit ahead of the curve with soft skills, like talking to adults and knowing how to act in a workplace.