Durham youth gain valuable work skills and experience through internships

September 10, 2018

Teamwork. Designing. Building. Speaking up in a workplace.

These are a few of the many skills nearly 180 Durham youth gained this summer working in six-week paid internships with local business, government and nonprofit employers.

YouthWork intern Antoinique White speaks with fellow interns, like Ivy Jones, to capture the 2018 YouthWork experience in her video about the program.


The Durham YouthWork Internship Program summer internships are part of an expanding continuum of work-based learning experiences Made in Durham partners are developing to help young people ages 14-24 in Durham prepare for careers.

“These internships help young people link what they learn in the classroom to the workplace and help employers develop a local talent pipeline,” said contact James Dickens, senior employment coordinator for the City of Durham’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD). OEWD offers YouthWork in partnership with Made in Durham and its workforce development partners – Durham County, Durham Public Schools, Durham Technical Community College and local employers.

Interns say the experiences teach them a range of hard and soft skills.

“It teaches us teamwork. It teaches us commitment and dedication. It teaches us how to build stuff, problem-solving – many different skills to help us do our job. That’s helpful if we’ve got an interview or get a job – we know all of this stuff,” said Vasquez Michaels, who interned at Durham Public Schools’ Hub Farm.

Ivy Jones said her internship at McKim & Creed helped her come out of her shell to speak up, ask for help and accept constructive criticism.

“I’m so used to being a wallflower that I wouldn’t step out and talk to people. They really showed me how friendly they are,” Jones said. “I was like, I shouldn’t be afraid. They’re actually happy I’m here. I should at least put effort into stepping out of my shell and speaking to people.”

Hebron Daniel said he learned time management, listening skills and how to work more productively during his internship at the Durham Housing Authority.

His supervisor, Timothy Harden, said interns offer organizations a range of benefits.

“One of the benefits of having a student intern is to get fresh eyes on different activities that I do and get new input on ways to look at things or fix problems,” Harden said.

Robin Stevens at Scrap Exchange said the interns offered her insights into how the nonprofit could scale its staff effectively.

“To have the interns for the summer showed us that if we were able to add that much staff, we would get that a lot more sales and our sales floor would look cleaner and we could really direct the rest of our staff to do a variety of different things.”

Shea Ramirez of SH’Bella Modeling Agency said interns helped her get her office organized so she could work more productively.

“Before they came, I was trying to juggle multiple things,” Ramirez said. “Now I feel more organized. I feel like I can move faster within both businesses. ”

YouthWork partners recruit employers each year and match youth and employers each spring for internships offered during June and July. Community members and employers who want to support he program can offer summer internships, sponsor interns in nonprofit organizations and help interview students each spring, Dickens said.

For more information or to contribute, visit https://durhamnc.gov/598/Durham-Youthwork-Internship-Program or contact program administrator James Dickens at (919) 560-4965 ext. 1521 or james.dickens@durhamnc.gov.


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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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