The Durham YouthWork Intern Program matches students with internships that align with their current career interests. It provides Durham youth opportunities to gain work experience in Durham businesses and nonprofits for 5 weeks. This year, the program has expanded to 300 participants–a large growth from previous years, where it has been 180-200 kids. Their goal is to develop the program to 1000 participants within the next few years.
With this phenomenal increase of students, there has not been an increase in staff. This has caused the office to be a bit hectic, and my role as a volunteer in the OEWD has been primarily to organize and acquire the paperwork necessary for the students to begin working.
Filing paperwork has been both rewarding and frustrating. It has been rewarding in the sense that I know that doing this work allows students to have a job. These placements can make a great impact in their lives, particularly to those who come from challenging socioeconomic positions. The program also provides these students with work experience that can be added to their resume and therefore allow them to obtain more and better jobs in the future. At the same time filing the paperwork has been frustrating. Many of the students who are in the program are young (some are still in high school) and don’t always return emails or phone calls. This makes it difficult to rectify mistakes when some of the participants, seemingly inevitably, are missing important documents. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Each day, as the pile of missing documents get smaller and smaller, more students are set to begin their new jobs.
Next week all the program participants will meet for a week of job training. This training will be especially beneficial for the younger students who have no work experience because will teach them what to expect from a job.
I am excited to meet the students who are part of the internship program and I am thrilled to put a face to their names. I will finally have a chance to interact with Durham youth and see that my efforts have been worth it!