SEATTLE – Thursday, the City of Seattle celebrated the 2018 Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP) interns during the annual Capstone event. Over 300 guests gathered in Fisher Pavilion at the Seattle Center to recognize the Seattle Youth Employment Program, celebrate the success of the participants, and thank the many employers that partnered with the City to provide meaningful employment opportunities to Seattle’s youth.
This year over 350 interns were connected to paid internships with nearly 75 employers, including 19 City of Seattle departments, non-profit organizations, and the private sector.
“Seattle is experiencing record growth due in part to the job opportunities that exist here in the City. We want to ensure that the youth in our City are given access to meaningful job opportunities that help them develop professional skills during these critical early years of their careers,” said Jason Johnson, Interim Director of the Human Services Department. “This is real-world experience they won’t get in any classroom.”
SYEP provides paid internship opportunities for youth and young adults in our community—with a focus on young people from lower-income households, and communities that experience racial, social, and economic disparities. Participants in the program represent the rich diversity of our City. Last year, nearly half of the youth identified as Black/African American, 27% identified as Asian, 7% identified as Hispanic/Latinx, and just over half identified as female. The program seeks to create equitable pathways to success through educational supports, wrap around services, and job opportunities to develop skill sets for the future workforce.
“This is my third year as an SYEP intern. I have had the opportunity to work for Seattle Port Authority, the Gates Foundation, and now The City of Seattle,” said Mary Faith Mwaniki. “It’s no secret what young people in Seattle need to be successful…access to opportunity, education, and support to become the best you can be. SYEP has provided these things for me, and many of my peers that have participated in the program.”
Each internship placement provides unique opportunities for participants. For example, last year six young men of color from Garfield and Cleveland High schools interned with Seattle-King County Public Health to develop health education and outreach materials for youth suicide prevention and reduce risk factors youth face in their communities. In a presentation, the interns described their experiences in developing suicide prevention curriculum, educating their peers, and learning about career options in the Public Health sector. Other success from SYEP include positive feedback from employers in which more than 90% said they were willing to provide interns they supervised with a positive professional reference.