Todd Elliott Jr. PictureTodd, Summer Youth Employment Program 2013

For Todd, family support has been the key ingredient to his career development as a teenager. Currently a senior in high school, Todd’s focus exceeds that of many of his peers as his dreams of becoming a Film Director fall into place through the experience he has gained in the Summer Youth Employment Program.

Todd’s interest in film began at home as he worked with his father. This interest, along with recommendation of his mother, led Todd to RochesterWorks! a few summers ago as he enrolled in his first summer work program. His experience, along with Todd’s solid work ethic and professionalism, has opened up further opportunities with ArtWorks in downtown Rochester.

His perspective drives a focus on doing whatever it takes to achieve his goals. This excellence is an inspiring example worth sharing of the importance of family support in shaping the goals and dreams of a teenager.

Learn more about Todd’s experience by reading his full interview below!

Q: What were you doing before the Summer Youth Employment Program?
A:  My first year of this program was last year. Before this program I worked with my Dad who is now a teacher at ArtWorks. I went with him to weddings and worked with him other projects. I also attended school and was involved in a lot of extracurricular programs.

Q: How did you hear about the program?
A:  My mom introduced me to RochesterWorks!. She found the program, showed me the website, and helped me to apply for it. I wouldn’t have known about it except for my Mom, so I am very grateful!

Q: How did RochesterWorks! help you in this process?
A: RochesterWorks! made this process so easy to get involved in and start working. I had no problem applying online and going through the interview process. In the application, I was even able to choose a few areas that interested me. I chose Film and Photography! Then, when I found out that I would get to work at ArtWorks, I was so excited! Working here has given me the opportunity to grow professionally and to learn about the Film industry.

Q: What interested you about this program?
A:  RochesterWorks! focused on placing me where I could develop skills that will help me in the future.  I needed a summer job, but I didn’t expect to find work in this area! The Summer Youth Employment Program gave me both!

Q: What have you been working on during this program?
A:  ArtWorks is focused on one thing: developing youth by training them to be entrepreneurs and to work as a team. During the summer they work with youth to develop their skills in Music, Photography/Video, Art, and Dance. For example, we produced videos as a group and put together portfolio projects such as documentaries and albums from start to finish.

Q: What did you gain from this experience?
A: Something that I gained from this experience was learning how to focus and be professional. My parents raised me to be respectful, work hard, and be focused on the end goal. Seeing all of my hard work pay off when I was hired to work during the school year after my program ended was worth it! It really showed me how important it is to have goals and work hard to accomplish them—even at a young age.

Q: What do you think led to your success in this program?
A: My success in this program came from hard work, to be sure, but more importantly it came from what I’ve learned from my parents.  I’ve learned to respect my job and my employers. This goes a long way in the work world.

Q: Is there anything that, looking back, you would have done differently?
A:  There isn’t a lot that I would change about my experience. I’ve learned a lot and I know that continuing to work here during the school year will help me to learn even more. During the school year, I will assist their staff with the youth that come after school. Being able to work with a different program will be exciting!

Q: What kind of advice do you have for others who may be interested in applying to the SYEP?
A:  My advice to anyone looking into the Summer Youth Employment Program is to go ahead and apply. Being able to work in an area that you are passionate about is an incredible experience. Realize that while getting paid to do something you love is exciting,  it takes a lot of determination to focus on your goals. I’m very thankful to RochesterWorks! for this program. It has helped me tremendously to figure out my goals and keep working hard to achieve them!

Q: What is coming up next for you? What are your long-term goals?
A:  After this program I will start my senior year of high school while I work part-time at ArtWorks. After I graduate, I plan to attend Full Sail University for a Bachelor’s Degree in Film with plans of becoming a Film Director. I’m looking forward to the future. I know it will be a long road, but I’m excited to get started!

For more information on Summer Youth Programs offered through RochesterWorks! visit our website at!

Translate »