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U-M employers, mentors needed to support SummerWorks

By Julia Weinert
Poverty Solutions

Now in its seventh year of programming, SummerWorks seeks University of Michigan employers to provide internships and mentorship to local young adults ages 16-24.


SummerWorks is Washtenaw County’s Summer Youth Employment Program, run by Washtenaw County’s Office of Community and Economic Development, Michigan Works! Southeast, Michigan Rehabilitation Services and U-M. Its mission is to strengthen the community by leveraging local resources to provide opportunity and mentorship to young adults.

While the program went virtual in 2020, this year SummerWorks will bring back in-person programming and keep hybrid and remote options available for employers based on their organizational need.

Last year, the program hosted 50 internships and 70 mentorship placements. The program hopes to engage 100 internship positions and 100 mentors this year, and staff members are excited to share the university’s resources with the community.

“Our goal is to build on learnings during the pandemic and expand engagement for all participants through a variety of modes, including remote, hybrid and in-person. We hope to continue teaching new skills for evolving work environments,” said Zoë Erb, SummerWorks program manager.

Related: SummerWorks Mentoring Guide

Young adults in the program will engage in professional development sessions via a hybrid approach, a combination of webinars and in-person sessions with staff. These sessions begin in April so interns are ready to interview with potential employers in May and begin work in June.

SummerWorks internships provide emerging professionals the opportunity to learn more about a career field, the workplace and how they want to apply themselves.

“As an introverted person, working at the library and connecting with other people has pushed me to ‘come out of my shell’ a little bit,” said Alayna Good, an intern at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library. “The program helps you improve and grow as a person.”

Her supervisor Monica Porter, assistant librarian, has been involved since the summer youth employment program’s inception in 2016. Porter hires multiple interns each year and called the program a “win-win” situation.

Providing internships opens doors and connections that may not be possible otherwise for young adults like Karis Hawkins, a 2021 SummerWorks participant who interned at the Michigan Medicine Department of Biological Chemistry.

“I was really grateful to have the opportunity to work at that internship and get matched at that internship through SummerWorks, because otherwise, I’m not sure if I would’ve had the opportunity to work in the lab that I’m in right now,” Hawkins said. “It’s been a really awesome opportunity — a learning experience, definitely.”

For youth, mentors and employers, SummerWorks builds confidence, fosters leadership skills, expands inclusive work practices and creates talent pipelines within a range of industries.

“Ultimately, SummerWorks is not just a jobs program,” Erb said. “It is a way to come together as individuals, organizations and a community invested in each other. It is a space to challenge the status quo, address inequities and strengthen our economy. And importantly, it is an opportunity to break old cycles, incorporate fresh ideas and expand educational and socioeconomic attainment for generations to come.”

The program continues to monitor CDC and local health guidelines, and staff members plan to work closely with all program stakeholders to prioritize everyone’s safety and health. To learn more about why you should become a SummerWorks employer, visit and contact us to get started.

Application Deadlines

Mentor Deadline: March 20

Priority Employer Deadline*: March 20

Employer Deadline: April 10

*Note: Employers submitting their complete application (including their internship description) by the priority deadline will be eligible for a $200 internship subsidy.

Originally published by the University Record