Young Workers Join CUMC for the Summer

Yesterday, local teens and young adults completed the CUMC rite of passage, HIPAA training.  Now they join clerical teams across CUMC as part of New York City's Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).

Over the next seven weeks, about 90 interns will gain firsthand work experience in the health care field, as they provide much-needed clerical help to CUMC staff across 45 departments. CUMC has participated for 20 years in the city-sponsored program, which offers summer jobs to local youth at participating organizations.

“We’re hoping to teach professional skills,” said Clara Leon, assistant director of Government and Community Affairs. “For a lot of these kids, it's their first chance to be exposed to a real-life working environment."

On their first day, the participants—many of whom were recruited from Washington Heights—were briefed on how to dress appropriately and on the importance of patient privacy (HIPAA), which is crucial to the work the interns will be doing over the summer. Chosen by lottery, SYEP participants will work four days a week.

Watch the video to learn more about SYEP jobs at CUMC

For some interns, the program may be a stepping-stone to a permanent job.

“I took it seriously, and I learned everything,” said CUMC employee Chanel Arias, 20, who participated in SYEP last summer and addressed the new participants during orientation. "During the last week of the program, they said, ‘She’s good. We don’t want to lose her.’” Arias now works as an administrative aide in the Department of Medicine’s Center for Advanced Cardiac Care, for cardiologists Dr. Rachel Bijou and Dr. Mathew Maurer. To succeed in the program, Arias stressed, it is important to dress appropriately, as well as to be prompt and disciplined.

For SYEP participant Karla Cuenca, a Brooklyn native who recently graduated from SUNY-New Paltz, the experience gave her hope for obtaining meaningful employment. After studying organizational communications in college, she was eager for real-world experience.

“You can learn about something for four years,” she said, “but know it only on the surface. SYEP offers the chance to 'get to know it hands on.'”

To learn more about SYEP, email


NYC, summer youth employment program, syep