What did you do when all your summer plans came crashing down?
What happened when your summer internship was suddenly cancelled?
How did you cope when the camp you’ve been at counselor at for the past ten years announced they were closed for the season?
Andrew Exler and Tyler Pepe have some ideas to get you through the worst of it. In fact, just a few months ago they created and launched a brand new organization called My New Summer to help young Jewish adults find solutions to these challenging questions.
Lucky for me (and now you!), I chatted one-on-two with Andrew (Founder & CEO) and Tyler (Chief Operating Officer) about why they started My New Summer, how you can benefit from it, and what dreams they have for their organization in a post-pandemic future.
Andrew: In a sentence, we’re a virtual collective of camp people helping other camp people prepare for what’s next.
The whole thing came about during my senior year of college in 2012 when I was in my first job interview. I had listed four years of working at summer camp in my resume. I actually got laughed out of the room from the interviewer. He told me camp is a joke to have on a resume. This pushed me to start a bigger conversation with mentors of mine who helped me learn how to position my camp work experience as a valid skill to have on my resume.
Tyler: I see My New Summer as response recovery for all the people in the Jewish community working in the summer camp space who suddenly caught a raw deal when COVID changed their plans.
When we launched, we started reaching out to our own networks to connect people to jobs and internships, so they weren’t just locked-in doing nothing during the pandemic. At the same time, we realized that there were no real services out there that helped validate camp skills as a “real” job that can be translated to a corporate space or anywhere else. Camp people are unbelievably talented, hard working, and are kind of an untapped resource in the job market. We realized there was something missing and decided to move in that direction to help camp people as professionals.
Andrew: I went to camp for 16 years and loved everything about it. When the pandemic hit and LostTribe, the esports organization I was working for, started connecting me with camp directors, it made me realize that there were hundreds of thousands of camp workers who were out of a job last minute. It also made me think back to the time I was in that job interview and got laughed at for including camp work experience on my resume. I wanted to figure out how to support to camp people [during this pandemic] and help them realize that their camp experience is not a joke, but something to be celebrated and highlighted on their resume.
Tyler: Before COVID, I was a graduate student living in Israel coaching lacrosse. Then, my classes went online and our season was cancelled and I ended up back in the states. Andrew called and asked me to help him with his idea for My New Summer. He’s a very hardworking and forward-thinking person, so it was easy to say yes to him.
Tyler: Right now, we are essentially a recruiting and job/internship placement service that is cost and commission free. We have a virtual network where people can come to get resume advice, search for jobs, and get professional development specifically aimed at camp staff. We have a team of volunteers that operate a backend matchmaking-like service where they make introductions and connections between “camp people” looking for jobs and available jobs. We’ve been around for four months, and are getting close to 30 jobs we’ve placed people in. It may be small, but that means we can focus on specific things people ask for.
Also, one of the major ripple effects of this work is how it helps the campers themselves. When our work is done right, camp staff will want to stay at camp so camp directors can retain their staff for longer. This continuity for the campers – having counselors that campers can come back to, establish long term connections with, and see as role models – is a really big deal.
Andrew: At the end of the day, we’re a nonprofit organization and want to help camp people get what they need without charging them anything.
Andrew: Our niche is people who have worked at or been to camp, but we do like to use that term more broadly to include anyone who has played team sports, been in a youth group, or participated in anything where they learn to live with and be compatible with others in spaces like that.
Tyler: We’re built on Jewish values of inclusion, and want to welcome any and all – not just those who went to camp and not even just the Jewish community. We welcome anyone who is a friend of a friend of a camp person, we don’t want anything to stop someone from being a part of our network.
Andrew: Start on our website and follow us on Instagram. One you join on our website you’ll be entered into a private LinkedIn group, which is where people can connect to employers. DC young adults can also sign up to become a mentor and provide virtual opportunities to people seeking jobs and internships.
Andrew: I’m in Pittsburgh, I live with my fiancé and our two dogs. I also do social media consulting and work with nonprofits and small businesses, which is what led to me to work for the esports organization Lost Tribe.
Tyler: I’m in New Haven, but before COVID hit, I was a player/coach in the Israel Lacrosse League, a men’s domestic league. When I’m not doing My New Summer, I work at my family business which is a metal stamping factory.
Andrew: We’re definitely living in the long term. We have ten years worth of ideas in a five year plan. The job posting service will likely forever be a part of what we’re doing, but at the end of the day it’s the professional development piece that is our focus. We want to show up at summer camps and lead workshops about applying for jobs, resume building, etc. Throughout the year, we’ll offer a My New Summer series where we can bring in expert speakers and coaches to help camp people expand their professional development skills. One day we want to have our own LinkedIn type platform specifically for camp people.
Tyler: We don’t want to be just a virtual jobs cork-board, instead our approach is much more guided and personal. We’re trying to make a space where we are really building community.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.