Let’s face it, in today’s society, the competition in the job market is increasing at an exponential pace, leaving those who have fewer internships or job experience out of luck. While a college degree with honors looks good on a resume, employers are expecting applicants to come out of college with at least 3-5 years of experience. What about those who have to work multiple part time jobs in order to pay for school or for their family? As sad as it is to say, the people who can afford many unpaid internships in their respected field typically are ones who stand out to employers.
A program through KentuckianaWorks called SummerWorks was implemented by Mayor Greg Fischer in 2011 when teen unemployment rates were at an all-time low. This program offers local students (ages 16-21) the opportunity to enter the workforce and offers all the tools to students in order to succeed. Last summer, more than 140 employers hired more than 5,100 youth between the age of 16 and 21. From industry-leading corporations to neighborhood businesses, organizations of all size have benefited from participating in SummerWorks. For participating nonprofits, Metro Louisville pays each intern $8.25/hour for 30 hours per week for seven weeks. This money comes out of the Metro budget surplus.
SummerWorks is a program that not only helps students but also helps businesses around the Jefferson County/Louisville area. In all honesty, it’s a win-win. This program provides students with valuable knowledge about the workforce, money management, and helps them create connections; all of which can be taken with them in the future and applied to future jobs or careers.
My SummerWorks story isn’t like most–I didn’t find SummerWorks, but rather, it found me. After being connected with New Roots for a couple of years, and finishing up my first year at a Jesuit University that heavily encourages community service, I knew I wanted to find an internship that was more than just going on coffee runs and staring at the ceiling all day. I wanted to make a difference. When Karyn Moskowitz reached out to me and proposed that I come work with New Roots as a marketing intern through the SummerWorks program, I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass.
This was not the internship I had in mind for this summer, but I am beyond thankful that it was placed in my lap. SummerWorks has introduced me to many hard-working, passionate young adults who I work alongside every day. This internship is giving me valuable marketing and life skills that I am able to save and use in the future. This internship is also helping me give back to the community.
While my New Roots SummerWorks story is not the same as others, there is a running theme that this opportunity allows us to thrive and learn in a field that we are interested in. Similar to me, junior in the culinary program at Western High School in Louisville, Lee’Shion Stroud, said that his SummerWorks internship at New Roots fell into his lap. He said that his trainer at the Break the Mold CrossFit gym in Shively originally suggested he work at New Roots and hearing that it was a food justice nonprofit organization immediately peaked his interest. Stroud has developed a love for food and cooking while being a part of his high school’s culinary program. “I was excited to be a part of New Roots this summer because now I can begin to love and appreciate healthier foods like fruits and vegetables.” This internship is allowing Lee’Shion to come one step closer to fulfilling his dream of becoming a chef by allowing him to meet local chefs, cook for Fresh Stop Markets, and learn the importance of fresh foods.
SummerWorks is mostly about helping the youth in the Louisville area, but it also helps local organizations. “New Roots is really interested in cultivating food justice leadership in our youth and young adults. We hand-picked our SummerWorks interns on their specific talents and strengths, neighborhoods of residence, and passion to unite communities to spread food justice,” said Karyn Moskowitz. “We love having their valuable input and innovative ideas.” New Roots currently has 7 SummerWorks interns: 4 operations, 2 communications/marketing, and 1 assistant to the administrative coordinator. These interns are vital to the New Roots HQ over June and July.
Whether it be teaching students about goal setting, time management, and money management within a workplace or allowing a place for those to come one step closer to a dream or future career–the Mayor’s SummerWorks program is allowing 16-21 year old’s across Jefferson county the chance to make money and ultimately give them an advantage to succeed in today’s competitive job market. New Roots could not imagine their summer or “start of the growing” and Fresh Stop Market season without their SummerWorks interns.