Durham employers prepare to host YouthWork summer interns

May 16, 2018
Local employers brainstorm ways to improve the internship experience for Durham youth.

Employers who will host youth for internships this summer through the Durham YouthWork Internship Program convened for orientation and training at Durham Technical Community College on May 15, part of a range of quality improvements the program undertook this year.

The training focused on best practices for experienced supervisors and preparing new supervisors for working with youth. It was hosted by the Business Engagement Team, partners from the City of Durham’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Durham County, Durham Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education, Durham Technical Community College and Made in Durham staff, who coordinate the program.

“The Business Engagement Team has focused on quality improvements that will create better outcomes for youth interns and host companies,” said Jacob Dolan, employment engagement strategist for Made in Durham. One of the obvious gaps was supervisor training to share best practices and help supervisors prepare great experiences for their interns. We created a highly interactive training this year that benefitted experienced and new supervisors alike.”

Other program improvements included allowing internship applicants to schedule themselves for interviews instead of assigning times, an innovation piloted last year that drove higher participation rates; creating  a pre-internship training track tailored for 18-24 year-olds; and revamping the summer counselors program to provide greater support for interns.

YouthWork is part of a continuum of work-based learning experiences Made in Durham partners are developing to help young people ages 14-24 in Durham prepare for careers. It offers Durham youth six-week paid internships in regional businesses, nonprofits and government agencies to link what they learn in the classroom to the workplace and identify and use transferable skills.

Interns learn both hard and soft career-readiness skills, increase their knowledge of occupations and industries, establish a work history and networks for future job searches, and broaden their understanding of the world of work. Employers benefit by getting extra help for projects, new ideas and energy, testing potential new hires and helping Durham build a strong local talent pipeline.

During the training, employers explored the mutual benefits possible through internships, ways to make internships more meaningful and beneficial, and how to overcome challenges. Youth interns will undergo intern readiness training in mid-June before beginning their internships.

For more information on the program, visit durhamnc.gov/598/Durham-Youthwork-Internship-Program.

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Made in Durham is a community partnership of educators, business, government, youth-serving nonprofits and young people mobilized around a shared vision that all of Durham’s youth will complete high school and a post-secondary credential and begin a rewarding career by the age of 25.
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