Faces of Evanston interns Zena Grant-Sosa (standing) and Tyler Kensek get ready for another day of work. Both are students at ETHS and have learned a variety of marketing and tech-related techniques this summer regarding the Faces of Evanston as well as their ability to innovate and adapt. Photo courtesy of Kurz and Company

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Last summer Zena Grant-Sosa attended Evanston’s Summer Youth Job Fair, but came away empty-handed. This summer she and Tyler Kensek, a senior at Evanston Township High School, became the Faces of Evanston’s summer interns, thanks to funding from the City, First Bank & Trust and the Kiwanis Foundation.

  The students are working on the Faces of Evanston website, which features the photo entries, past and present, contest rules and photo tips, for this eight-year old citywide contest. The two say they love the freedom of being on their own, though they have daily online or in-person communications with Dr. Stamata Blanas, a Kiwanis member who originated the contest.

  “The contest has grown, but we needed help in social media and daily updates to our Faces of Evanston page,” said Dr. Blanas. “We were delighted to make this connection. The contest, the club and the kids are reaping the benefits. Our motto is to ‘serve the children of the world’ … in this case right here in Evanston,” she added.

  Zena credits Tyler with helping her improve her grammar and Tyler, who hopes to study art after graduation, finds working on a website a challenge and an outlet for his artistic skills. Daily schedules include working on the website utilizing the intricacies of Twitter and Flicker, enhancing the contest Facebook page and personalizing a YouTube account. They have also discovered that making each blog post fresh and creative takes a huge effort. Dr. Blanas added she is delighted at how the students have cooperated with one another, bringing different skills to the task but working together as a team.

  Last week they added “sales person” to their skill set. They were giving away cameras in the ETHS lunchroom to try to get more student involvement. Both admitted that they were very nervous about their sales pitch to the students. And both recognized that the mention of cash prizes for photos created a lot more excitement. Tyler said, “We got a much better response once they realized they might get some cash from their entries.”

Promotion of the contest, securing sponsors for the Faces and many other marketing aspects are now on their resumés.

In an effort to encourage young people to examine the Evanston community more closely, contest rules allow students to submit up to five photos without paying the entry fee. 

When Zena was asked whether she would recommend this job to anyone else, she gave an emphatic, “No!” She grinned and said, “I want to do this again next year!”