Mayor's Youth Employment Program graduate pursues career in health care
Leslie Blaser
MYEP health care experience

Through an Atrium Health work experience, program graduate Sydnie Wardlaw helped hundreds of Mecklenburg County residents receive COVID-19 tests.

Sydnie Wardlaw, a freshman at Howard University and graduate of Bradford Preparatory School wants to be a doctor. So when she applied for the Mayor's Youth Employment Program (MYEP), she was thrilled to be placed in a health care work experience with Atrium Health during the summer.

By the end of her experience, she had helped hundreds of Mecklenburg County residents by assembling COVID-19 tests.

Wardlaw's work experience was with the Mobile Medical Unit at Atrium. A large part of her job was going to warehouses to compile COVID-19 test kits: putting together testing tubes with saline and testing swabs, gathering personal protective equipment and other needed supplies, and packing them on the mobile medicine units to go out to test sites each day.

sydnie wardlaw myep atriumShe also volunteered one day at a test site where she said she saw 200 to 300 cars with around 500 people waiting to get tested.

"We probably saw around 500 people that day," she said.

For Wardlaw, this paid work experience helped her learn more about the health care field, and that it is not just doctors who are helping people.

"Medicine is not necessarily just about needles," she said. "The key to a healthy community is actually going out and seeing what the needs are, and informing the community about how they can keep themselves healthy and safe."

Seeing all that goes into caring for patients and employees, and seeing the day-to-day operations had a big impact on her and her future; to know that there are people out here who are looking out for and helping the community.

As part of her MYEP experience, Wardlaw toured different facilities at Atrium;met and spoke with employees across the company, including leadership and other corporate representatives; gave presentations on what she had learned and feedback from her day-to-day experiences. She said this program helped create relationships and opportunities for her as she explores more about the health care field. She has stayed in touch with her manager and human resources, and hopes to apply for their summer internship program in the future.

"I think it's very important for our youth to know what's available out there, to have a program and know what will work for them," Wardlaw said. "With more employers [participating in MYEP], I think more [young people] will stay invested in the city of Charlotte and stay [here]… we're going to build a better city."

Traditionally, MYEP has provided thousands of paid work experiences for high school students at local businesses across Charlotte. While Wardlaw was one of the 88 students who participated in person last summer, hundreds of others completed a virtual pathways program, due to COVID-19. This first-of-its-kind virtual program allowed students to choose from five different career pathways, while 20 teachers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Career and Technical Education provided monitoring and guidance along these pathways.

This online experience was wildly successful. The NC Department of Commerce highlighted it as an innovation that could be scaled statewide, and Bloomberg also featured the program nationally as one of two youth workforce development programs to emulate.

In total, 379 youth participated in the summer 2020 MYEP. They worked more than 38,000 hours and earned more than $400,000 as a cohort.

Looking Forward to 2021

As the single largest provider of youth work experiences in the region, MYEP is key to providing the upward mobility Charlotte's youth so greatly need and deserve. This year, the program celebrates its 35th anniversary of providing meaningful experiences for youth, increasing social capital and enhancing the region's economic mobility. More than 600 students have applied for the 2021 program.

The City of Charlotte is seeking businesses that will support these youth and to match them with work opportunities. Businesses can support the MYEP in three ways:

Traditional Host Employer

  • Flagship offering; proven and tested.

  • Immerses the student in the world of work.

  • Five weeks at 20 hours per week.

  • Interested businesses can apply to be a host employer.

Virtual Pathway

  • Designed to simulate jobs in demand with industry leaders across major sectors.

  • Volunteer to share your expertise in workshops through our virtual platform.

  • Contact to learn more.


  • $900 to sponsor a student in either the traditional or virtual MYEP.

  • Aid in building tomorrow's workforce.

  • Contact to learn more.

Learn more about the MYEP program and other opportunities to get involved.