I’m Gina and I’ve been working with the City of Durham Office of Economic and Workforce Development (wow that was a handful to type! I’ll call it OEWD from now on) for almost two weeks. With my fellow DukeEngagers Anya and Ashley, I’ve been busy planning the YouthWork Internship Program, which places individuals aged 14-24 in jobs throughout the city. The program is a collaborative effort by OEWD with the City of Durham, Durham Public Schools, Made In Durham, and other community partners. By engaging in both short-term tasks and long-term projects, we’ve gotten a better feel for what our roles are within the organization and the Durham community. During my time thus far, I’ve really enjoyed bouncing ideas off of Anya and Ashley, as well as sitting in on some important meetings with representatives from OEWD’s community partners.
I was drawn to working at OEWD this summer because I personally understand the value in an internship program for youth, since I myself have had internships since my freshman year of high school and I have reaped the benefits from having such useful experiences.
Since the internship program doesn’t officially start until June 27th, we’ve mainly been responsible for planning several days of pre-employment training that will take place at Durham Tech Community College starting next Monday. Basically, our short-term tasks have revolved around organizing the logistics of pre-employment training and we’ve been sorting through a lot of paperwork that interns have filled out for their summer jobs. A long-term project that I’m particularly excited about is helping the Business Engagement Team with developing a new strategy for recruiting businesses to serve as internship hosts to both increase the number of businesses that will pay for their interns, but also expand the number of internships in targeted industry clusters.
As the first day of pre-employment training nears, I’m really looking forward to finally meeting many of the interns that we’ve spoken to on the phone. But, I’m also nervous as to whether our workshops will actually be beneficial to the interns because in prior years, many interns and employers had been neutral about the usefulness of pre-employment training. Hopefully, some of the changes that we implement this year, such as focusing on the 14 and 15 year-olds, will prove to be for the better!
I’m excited for what’s in store for us at OEWD throughout the next four weeks and I can’t wait to immerse myself more deeply into all that Durham has to offer.
Photo Credit Anya Bali