Since 2016, SummerWorks has offered 10-week paid summer internships to young adults ages 16 to 24 who live in Washtenaw County. In the past, the summer youth employment program has facilitated about 80 internship placements each year, and this year the program aims to grow to 130 internship placements.
“We continue to see an increased demand from young adults in our community. They are eager to gain experience and develop professionally,” said Kathleen Clancey, program manager for SummerWorks, which is run by the University of Michigan, Michigan Works! Southeast, Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development, and Michigan Rehabilitation Services.
“SummerWorks is a life-changing opportunity for so many youth and young adults in Washtenaw County,” said Shamar Herron, executive director of Michigan Works! Southeast. “The program is game changing. It teaches all aspects of employment from essential/soft skill development to how to engage in what often is a first employment opportunity. SummerWorks provides the foundation for youth to confidently explore and land in career opportunities right here in our community. We work diligently at Michigan Works! Southeast to positively affect our economies and create connections to a better future.”
Young adults are paid $15 to $17 an hour during their internships, depending on high school completion status. Employers from all fields are welcome to host an intern, as youth have varied interests.Through a collaboration with Advance Ypsi, SummerWorks aims to increase the number of mobility-focused and technology-related internship placements this year. Local employers who want to host a SummerWorks internship will need to commit $3,000 to $3,400 to fund the position. Employers can apply for financial support to subsidize a SummerWorks internship.
The deadline to apply to host a SummerWorks intern is March 17. Potential employers and mentors who want to learn more about the program can register for an upcoming informational session, which include virtual and in-person options between Feb. 9 and March 13.
SummerWorks employers receive tips and support for recruiting and retaining Generation Z workers. Employers have the opportunity to engage in optional sessions focused on how to engage interns in meaningful ways, how to bring DEI practices into their workplaces, and how to promote inclusive mentorship. On the flipside, youth involved in the program receive professional development to improve essential skills such as resume writing, interviewing, and professionalism in the workplace. This summer, Washtenaw County’s new Financial Empowerment Center will be involved in some of the workshops for youth focusing on budgeting, taxes, and overall financial wellness.
In addition to internships and professional development, SummerWorks also facilitates mentorships for youth who are interested. Local professionals can apply to be a mentor to help youth explore career opportunities, build their professional networks, and develop job and leadership skills.
Mentors should commit to meeting with their mentee once a week for the duration of the summer program. Meetings can be virtual, and SummerWorks would like to attract a diverse group of mentors from a variety of professional, educational, and personal backgrounds. SummerWorks also provides support and guidance for mentors on how to facilitate the mentorship relationship. The deadline to apply to be a mentor is March 17.
“This gave me a bit more experience of what it would be like in the workforce. It was my first job experience,” said David Chen, a 2023 SummerWorks participant. “I learned a lot about how to act in the work environment and networking and personal finance.”
“[SummerWorks is a] beautiful program, it’s well needed because parents can’t teach us everything we’ve learned here,” said Tierra Patterson, a 2023 SummerWorks participant regarding the value of SummerWorks.