Bell Atlantic and Urban League Partner to Provide Summer Jobs for Westchester Students

Bell Atlantic and Urban League Partner to Provide Summer Jobs for Westchester Students

A Commitment to Help Students Advance

July 30, 1998

Media contact: John Bonomo, 212 395-7756

NEW YORK -- There's no summer break this year for Kenyatta Williams. The college honors student is learning about the world of telecommunications.

Williams is one of 17 Westchester County high school and college students who have been hired by Bell Atlantic as summer interns for a variety of technical, clerical and managerial jobs in Westchester and Manhattan.

Williams is working as a desk foreman in Port Chester, keeping statistics on installations and repairs and assisting technicians in the field with office records. He was hired through the Black Scholars program, which is sponsored by the Westchester County chapter of the National Urban League. The program recognizes African-American students from Westchester who have attained a B average or better in school.

"Working at Bell Atlantic this summer has opened my eyes," said Williams, who will be a sophomore this fall at the State University of New York at Stony Brook on Long Island. "While many people see only the end result of a job, I've experienced first-hand the hard work that goes into a particular project. I've learned concepts such as teamwork, communications, customer service and diligence.

"I'm doing real work for real pay. It's a great feeling to know that your work in the classroom pays off in other areas," said Williams, a West Harrison resident.

In this first year of the partnership, the Westchester students are working in jobs ranging from administrative assistant and operator to foreman and engineer.

"The kids in this program have demonstrated hard work, a desire to achieve and good old 'stick-to-it-iveness'," said Ernest Prince, president of the Urban League of Westchester. "As part of our commitment to help these students advance, we partnered with Bell Atlantic to provide summer jobs that will help them develop skills that will last a lifetime. Our intent is to convince children that achievement does matter. It's important for these young people to see that hard work will result in expanded employment and career opportunities."

Jim Joedecke, Bell Atlantic vice president and general manager for Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, said, "The skills and experience students gain during the summer are invaluable. When they finish their education, they will be familiar with our industry and may even consider working for Bell Atlantic. In addition, the summer jobs program provides Bell Atlantic with dependable people to assist with our heavy summer work load and while our regular employees are on vacation," Joedecke said.

"The program is a demonstration of our commitment to the people and neighborhoods we serve, and is typical of our firm belief that we must give something back -- in this case, jobs for youth -- to our communities."

Long-time Bell Atlantic employees enjoy working side-by-side with the students during the summer. "Many of our regular employees find it very rewarding to teach the basics of our business to young people," Joedecke said.

Bell Atlantic plans to survey the interns at the end of the summer to gauge their opinions of the work they did and the experience they gained, and to ask for suggestions for future summer programs.

"One of our goals," said Prince of the Urban League, "is to expand the program to other Westchester-area companies. I would invite those companies to follow Bell Atlantic's lead in helping to develop our youth and providing opportunities for these bright kids."

The Urban League of Westchester County has served the minority and disadvantaged for over 80 years, and is Westchester's premier social service and civil rights organization.

Bell Atlantic -- formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX -- is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With more than 41 million telephone access lines and more than seven million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.

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