Thinking fondly of one’s first job, for most there are likely memories of scooping ice cream, stocking grocery shelves, taking fast food orders or filing paperwork in an office.
But not for Skyler DeJesus of Cathedral High in the South End, whose first paid job happens to be making sure Mayor Martin Walsh returns for another four-year mayoral term.
Being only 16, she is the youngest staffer on the campaign, but that hasn’t stopped her from making major contributions to the mayor’s re-election efforts as she canvasses neighborhoods, talks to voters, listens to their concerns and crunches numbers in the office. In fact, she’s done such a noticeably good job that last Tuesday night, in his victory speech, Walsh gave a shout-out specifically to the South End student.
“My family really loves Mayor Walsh and over the summer I heard that he might be giving jobs to people my age and I thought it would be fun,” she said. “It’s actually the first time I’ve ever had a job, so I was nervous at the interview, but they liked me and it’s been really fun. The treat me as if I’m older. I’m just there to do the job and I get no special treatment. I’m treated like everyone else and that’s good because it will prepare me for when I get older, not to expect special treatment from anyone when I’m working with others. It’s been the best first job I think I could have ever picked.
“Mayor Walsh has been so nice, coming in and talking to us about things and the campaign – and not talking to us like Mayor Walsh, but rather like the man, Marty Walsh,” she continued. “I was really happy to have the opportunity to do that.”
Gabrielle Farrell, campaign communications director, said it has been very enjoyable for everyone to work with Skyler and other young people on the campaign.
“We’re very proud of her and it is very important having young people involved in the campaign,” she said. “It is a campaign of the people and crosses generations. She has done a terrific job.”
On most work days, DeJesus does a lot of canvassing, talking most to voters in Mission Hill and other areas of the city. She says she has gotten to meet so many nice people, and all of them are interested in why she is working for a political campaign.
“In general, I spend most of the time talking to people about the campaign and if they want to volunteer,” she said. “We sometimes talk to the elderly and they are so sweet. They can’t believe how old I am. They always ask me how old I am and I tell them I’m 16. They are always shocked and tell me about what they were doing when they were 16 and the jobs they had.”
DeJesus said she doesn’t know what she would like to do in the future, but she said it could be law. Right now, she’s involved in mock trial at Cathedral and in softball too.
However, she said until now she has never been political or thought about City politics. That will change, though, and she said she hopes that young people like herself become more active.
She said if young people don’t get involved, and someone unqualified gets into office, then it is the fault of everyone who didn’t take the time to get involved. She said there are opportunities out there, and she’s learned that it’s a matter of going after them.
“I think there are a good amount of opportunities for young people,” she said. “You have to put yourself out there; you have to go for it. That’s what I did and it’s been fantastic. This is my first job and probably will end up being my best job. I tell people I’m so lucky to have it.”
DeJesus is the daughter of Omar and Tiffany DeJesus and is in her fourth year as a student at Cathedral in the South End.