The University of Michigan is seeking temporary, seasonal positions in units across campus for the Washtenaw County Summer Youth Employment Program, SummerWorks, that pairs youth with faculty and staff to help them gain work experience, mentorship and life skills training.
As part of the program, participating departments provide paid, temporary employment and mentorship for youth in a part-time capacity for 10 weeks over the summer. At the same time, Summer Youth Employment Program staff provide additional wrap-around supports to ensure a successful experience.
Community partners Michigan Works! Southeast and the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development launched the program in summer 2016.
In 2017, Poverty Solutions, the Ginsberg Center, Youth Policy Lab, and U-M Human Resources partnered to offer job placements at U-M and double the number of opportunities to young people from across the county. Since 2017, other organizations have joined the partnership, including the Washtenaw Alliance for Children and Youth, and Michigan Rehabilitation Services.
Since its inception, over 250 youth have participated in the program, including nearly 150 in positions on U-M’s campus.
“As an employer, U-M departments will help provide important work and mentorship experiences for young people as they build their professional networks and leadership skills,” said Jordan Greene, Summer Youth Employment Program project manager.
Last summer, 52 participants were placed in jobs across the university and 46 participants were placed with other employers across the county. This year, organizers aim to again double the number of opportunities for young people.
“Our surveys showed that almost all of 2019’s youth participants felt that the program met or exceeded their expectations,” said Greene. “Many said the mentorship, networking, and meaningful connections at U-M were the most valuable parts of their experience.”
For supervisors, working with youth participants also proved to be a valuable experience. Jessica Faul first hosted a youth employee in 2017 as a lab technician assistant, “Some of our youth have gone on to college and have received scholarships or found employment based on the skills and experiences they had with our group,” she said. “To me, that is what this program is all about — not just providing a summer job, but helping launch these youth on paths to a bright future. We are proud of our youth and honored to be part of this program.”
Departments interested in hiring are invited to hear from U-M units that employed a young person last summer, learn more about logistical details and what to expect at the upcoming information sessions:
- 8:30 a.m. Feb. 7, Wolverine Tower, Room 10004
- 8:30 a.m. Feb. 21 , Palmer Commons, Great Lakes South Room
- 8:30 a.m. March 6, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Conference Room 1110
What’s it like to host a youth employee? U-M supervisors reflect.
“We have participated in the Summer Youth Employment Program since 2017. Each year we are impressed by the professionalism and enthusiasm of the youth we meet. Thanks to the hard work of Michigan Works! and the Summer Program team, the youth come more prepared to the Summer Job Fair than most of the UM undergraduates we meet and interview for internships. We have been matched with exceptional youth who quickly become part of our team.
– Jessica Faul, Associate Research Scientist, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research
“The most valuable and rewarding part of the program is giving youth the opportunity to experience “real life work problems” before they enter the workforce. By doing so, youths are able to fail and succeed at the same time as well as receive positive feedback and constructive criticism.”
– James Simmons IV, Parking Attendant Services Supervisor, & Gloria Bester, Parking Attendant Services Senior Supervisor, U-M Logistics, Transportation and Parking Department
“While we are modeling professional expectations, exposing students to new work industries, and giving them opportunities to begin to build their professional portfolios and confidence, we are also receiving opportunities for growth ourselves as leaders and employers. Students bring new ideas and can help to challenge norms that need to be challenged. Our staff receive the message that we are committed and invested in diversity pipelines and mentoring student learners.”
– Erin Khang, Social Work Manager, Michigan Medicine Department of Social Work
“We’re a large department, and our catering operations ask our staff to provide the highest levels of service for our community. Students from the program have come in to us with great enthusiasm and a willingness to take on new challenges. It creates a valuable learning experience for the students and for our supervisors.”
– Joe Coeling, Student Training and Development Specialist, Michigan Dining