Youth Interns Impress Over the Summer
This summer, FareStart celebrated the success of 17 youths who completed internships through our partnership with the City of Seattle in the Seattle Youth Employment Program. Twelve of them completed the internship at our Café @ PacTower while five, for the first time, completed internships at an external company.
The internships are an intense polishing of real-world skills that the youth have already picked up in our Youth Culinary Program – a partnership with Seattle Public Schools Interagency Academy. We select graduates from our Youth Culinary Program who have high potential, but still face difficult barriers to employment or opportunity. We combine work skills with case management and support throughout the duration of the internship.
In this six-week, paid program, youth gain valuable workplace experience, develop workplace responsibility, develop their leadership skills and build a work history. This year, we saw a retention rate of 100 percent. Every intern who started the program finished it.
We added a new element to the mix in 2018, a partnership with MOD Pizza. MOD is a business that takes its social responsibility seriously and sees itself as a people-first organization. Five interns were placed in three Seattle stores. They worked side by side with MOD staff serving customers, prepping and making pizzas. All five of the interns have since been hired by MOD.
At the graduation ceremony held in Pacific Tower, youth interns talked about what the program meant to them and what they’ve learned. Staff gave positive feedback as they presented the certificates of achievement. MOD Pizza staff was on hand as well, talking up the interns who are now staff in front of the standing-room-only audience. We chatted with a couple of graduates, Lexi and Quinn, after the ceremony.
Lexi lights up the room describing her experience.
“Working at this program has been inspirational for me,” she said. “I always want to keep busy, my mind is always working on something. When I found out that I could go to school, do this program, get paid for it and earn school credits at the same time I knew it was a good program. I get here an hour early because I love it so much.”
Lexi talked about her future after the internship at our Café @ PacTower.
“This program helped me focus on what I want to do,” she said. “I’m going to go to school for culinary business after I get a few years of experience in the food industry.”
Quinn is the kind of person who is at ease wherever he is.
“I started this program because I knew I wanted to do something with food,” he said. “This program taught me skills that I had first learned in the culinary program, but better. I came in, worked hard, got paid and finished the program. I loved it here. The work was good, the people were great and I always had a good time. I’d recommend this program to anyone. It’s really worth it.”
“This has been an incredible summer,” said JoAnn Bowditch, FareStart’s director of youth training programs. “I’ve worked with these interns and I was so impressed by all of you and all of your growth. Our partnership with MOD has been remarkable and I’m just so glad that you all were here for the summer.”