Last Friday marked the end of this year’s Durham YouthWork Internship Program. While I might be 3800 miles away in Durham, UK, the memories and lessons I learned from my time there and at the Office of Economic and Workforce Development in Durham, North Carolina will stay with me regardless of where I am.
The Durham YouthWork Internship Program offers local youths the opportunity to transfer the skills they’ve gained in the classroom and apply them to their work at regional businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies. Not only do the YouthWork interns gain job-related and technical skills from their work experience, they also develop communication and interpersonal skills. It has also been proven that work exposure motivates students to seek post-secondary credentials and improve their academic performance. Looking back, I now see just how meaningful this program truly is.
Six weeks of working with the Durham YouthWork Internship Program taught me a lot about myself, my peers, and my community. One of the most valuable things I realized was just how easy it was to underestimate the amount of time and work that went into implementing a program such as YouthWork. My responsibilities consisted of reading through applications, organizing and filling out paperwork, creating spreadsheets and google forms, volunteering at training sessions, taking photos, among other tasks. Yet, all the work that my fellow DukeEngage interns and I did in six weeks’ time, however, was still trivial compared to all the work that had to be done for the program to run effectively. The more I listened, observed, and engaged with those around me, the better I understood and the more I appreciated the work that was put in by everyone involved in the process. I’m thankful to have been given this opportunity to develop my own interpersonal skills and broaden my perspective.