Monday Aug 15th, 2016
When looking for a job as a 14-year-old high school freshman in 2009, Alexandra Odom quickly realized that her options were limited. Though she was eligible for employment with a work permit, few employers were willing to hire someone so young. Alexandra eventually found a summer job with YouthWorks.
Her first position with YouthWorks took place that summer with Baltimore City’s Department of Recreation and Parks in Chinquapin Park, where she contributed to a team of youth whose goal was to maintain and beautify the park. This was Alexandra’s first of many summers participating in YouthWorks. With positions ranging from working in public parks to higher education, all of her positions have played a unique part in contributing to her goal to be a historian and professor of African American history.
“The experience I gained as a YouthWorks participant has been invaluable,” stated Alexandra. “In my early years I was able to cultivate a strong work ethic and develop interpersonal skills necessary for success in a professional setting.”
As Alexandra grew older, she participated in Hire One Youth, the private-sector component of YouthWorks. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake established Hire One Youth in partnership with leaders from the Baltimore business community as a way for local employers to join the city in creating valuable summer employment opportunities for Baltimore’s teens by hiring at least one young person.
Alexandra earned a Hire One Youth placement with Mahan Rykiel Associates in 2014 and 2015. MRA has participated in Hire One Youth since its inception in 2012. It is a minority-owned, full-service landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm with a staff of 45 including 11 LEED Accredited Professionals. MRA has an international portfolio with projects in multiple sectors in more than 30 countries.
During her time with MRA, Alexandra assisted with research and administrative tasks. Her supervisor, Tom McGilloway, a principal with the firm, reported that Mahan Rykiel Associates has always been very pleased with Alexandra, Hire One Youth and the young people they have hired through the program.
Outcomes & Benefits
In the summer of 2016, Alexandra’s Hire One Youth placement was with the University of Maryland at Baltimore as a Writing Consultant. Now at the age of 22, she has completed her time with YouthWorks and is proud to say that it has been a huge contributor to her success as she continues on the journey to reach her goals.
Alexandra is a graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa where she majored in history, specializing in American history, world history, and American government. She is interested in the environmental history of various landscapes and how it can impact design. In the spring of 2014, Alexandra was chosen as one of Grinnell’s three Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows.
Alexandra was recently named a Fulbright Scholar and is pursuing an M.A. in history at Queen Mary University of London.