Meet Sydnie Lau, who first heard about the National Teen Leadership Program from her cousin when she was in high school. Her brother got to participate and shared his experiences with her too. Unfortunately, she did not have a chance to participate as a camper because she had a busy schedule already, but she had the chance to participate as a staff member in 2019. Additionally, she helped coordinate NTLP’s 2019 Gala, Casino Night on Broadway. Helping with the Gala was a lot of fun for her because she says that one really gets to appreciate all the hard work that goes on in planning an event that is only one night. It was great getting to work with other staff from NTLP camp in a different setting.
Though Sydnie is shy and introverted, she decided to staff NTLP because she wanted to show that you can be a leader while being on the quieter side. She happened to be matched with a co-lead who was more outgoing, and they really fed off each other’s energy while guiding the campers. She thought this was an optimal pairing because the teens were able to see two kinds of leaders. Her experience with NTLP provided her with an opportunity in “learning alongside the teens and really got to show them that a leader can come from all personality types. It took a lot of inner convincing that I had something to offer to the teens. I really enjoyed being able to gain the trust of those in my camp group and teaching them skills they can take with them at home, school, or eventually work.”
NTLP has helped Sydnie become more confident and speak up more. Being a staff member where so many people are relying on you to guide them put her out of her comfort zone. She is starting to learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and believes teens “will learn a lot by being part of NTLP. As you get older, you will start understanding more about yourself, how to embrace your insecurities, and play to your strengths. Right now, when you’ve been away from so many of your friends and relatives during COVID-19, it’s extra important you engage in activities such as NTLP because you really learn a lot from lived experiences and since we are all at home, having those experiences are harder to find. Also, when you start to think about college and beyond, know you can make your career whatever you want it to be. I switched from STEM to non-STEM after I already finished school and still find myself successful.”
Sydnie went to San Francisco State University and earned an undergraduate degree in Biology/Zoology. While she was on track to attend veterinary school, she realized that the level of people interaction would not keep her fulfilled in her career. She was able to intern within Talent Acquisition and learned skills in recruiting and program management. A goal she has developed during her recent role at work is to create an inclusive environment where everyone can feel they can bring their authentic selves in any setting. “I don’t believe anyone should need to hide certain aspects about themselves whether it’s at work, school, or home. I push myself to be part of leadership teams and employee resource groups at work so I can have a voice to create change.”