Summer Youth Employment Program

The University of Michigan is an active partner in SummerWorks, the Washtenaw County Summer Youth Employment Program, a 10-week summer employment and mentorship program that pairs employers with local youth to provide on-the-job training. SummerWorks connects youth to resources for building professional networks, exploring career opportunities, and developing essential job and leadership skills.

In 2016, the Washtenaw County Summer Youth Employment Program launched as a partnership between MichiganWorks! Southeast and the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development. In 2017, the University of Michigan joined the partnership to provide employment opportunities across campus and pair local youth with faculty and staff to help them gain work experience, mentorship, and life skills training. Since U-M partnered with the program, over 150 youth have been placed in a variety of jobs across the scope of the U-M enterprise. As the program continues to grow, we are excited to offer mentorship and employment opportunities again this summer, under Washtenaw County’s SummerWorks program.

New: See the SummerWorks Mentoring Guide published in November 2020

For more information on the Washtenaw County Summer Youth Employment Program visit:

For details regarding U-M employer participation, visit our employers page:
Employer Information & Support

Why Summer Youth Employment?

For young people today, the job market is more competitive and challenging now than in previous generations. Employers have high expectations and an increasing demand for more education and skills. As a result, young people — especially those lacking access to quality education, reliable job training, and professional development opportunities — can find it difficult to navigate the workforce, post-secondary education, and the transition into adulthood.

Large disparities in education and economic outcomes persist for youth from different parts of the nation, and the same is true for some of the University of Michigan’s surrounding areas in Washtenaw County. Young people often encounter structural barriers when entering the workforce or pursuing higher education because job access and training resources are not equally distributed across communities. Summer jobs programs can help close these gaps and promote equity by creating opportunities for youth to explore careers and educational paths, build professionalism skills, and engage in mentorship that prepares them for future success in higher education, the workforce, and beyond.

About the Research

'Recent research is encouraging, but more and better evidence of what works is necessary to ensure quality.' - Brookings Institution report, 'Youth Summer Jobs Programs: Aligning Ends and Means.' July 2016.The Summer Youth Employment Program is both an opportunity to provide jobs and identify best practices for programs of this kind. U-M’s program aims to build a rigorous evaluation structure to research the effectiveness of different strategies. This program is one of the first of its kind to be conducted by a major university; it is unique because it will not only measure the program’s impact but also use research to determine best practices for engaging and mentoring youth.

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