Interns at Work in Supervisor Chiu's Office

David Chiu and InternsYesterday we had the pleasure of visiting Branden and Rebecca, interns in Supervisor David Chiu’s office.  The interns spoke highly of their positive and supportive experiences in the office of the President of the Board of Supervisors.  They reported that the internship has enabled them to learn about how San Francisco works. David Chiu’s district includes Chinatown, North Beach, Russian Hill and the Polk Street area.

Pictured:  YouthWorks staff Jerome Anderson, Betsy Merzenich and Camile Richard;  President of the Board of Supervisors David Chiu; YouthWorks Interns Branden and Rebecca;  Legislative Aide Victor Wai Ho Lim.

Intern Testimonial: It Works!

BeverlyandRos2Recent email from Beverly Ke, intern at the Department of Public Works, to her Placement Specialist:

“On Saturday, I went to a practice interview for an internship I’m doing this summer, for Kaiser. Even though it wasn’t the real thing, it was very nerve-racking in the beginning.

I used words like “time management” and the interviewer really liked that. So thanks for always using those phrases. 😀

The goal setting workshop helped too…when she asked me questions, I was saying things that went around my career goals.”


Thanks for giving us this positive feedback.  We’d appreciate other intern and mentor testimonials, too.  Keep them coming!

Mentor Corner

Midsession EvaluationsFebruary Mentor Corner
This month placement specialists have been meeting in person with each intern and mentor to fill out an evaluation together and give constructive feedback to the intern. We have found that these meetings are a great way to acknowledge interns’ strengths and plan for further growth. If you have not yet scheduled a midsession evaluation meeting for your intern, please contact your placement specialist.

Workshops for YouthWorks participants
During February, YouthWorks offered participants two workshops on the topic of postsecondary education.  The first workshop provided youth with information about four-year college opportunities, requirements, and financial aid.  This was followed by a workshop at City College of San Francisco’s Career Technical Education program.  Youth visited the Evans Street campus and learned about CCSF’s many offerings in technical, trade and professional training.  In March, youth will attend a mandatory Resume and Interview workshop.  Please check in with your youth about these workshops and critical topics.  In particular, your experience with education and career preparation can provide your interns with a valuable new perspective!

Youth-Led Mentor Workshop a Success! Repeat Planned for March 31
On January 29, our Youth Leadership Team facilitated a mentor workshop of their own design. The workshop focused on how to build relationships with young people. Mentors who attended were thrilled at the chance to hear the interns’ perspective and ask everything they had ever wondered about high-school-aged youth. To view the youth-created Tip Sheet for your own use, check it out here. Because of the high demand for this workshop, we will be holding a repeat of the event on Wednesday, March 31.

Youth Leadership Team Reflects on their Workshop for Mentors

We, the Youth Leadership Team, designed and facilitated our first mentor workshop on January 29, 2010. It was about building a relationship and creating a safe space for your intern, and designing and leading it was one of the most nerve-racking and rewarding experiences we have ever had.Mentor Training Action Shot

The big-picture planning was the easiest part of designing the workshop, because we all had a common idea of what we wanted to include. The most difficult part of the planning was putting together the detailed trainer’s manual, because we had to design the scenarios, a tip sheet, and the discussion questions on our own. We had to do a lot of practicing to look professional and make ourselves feel comfortable while speaking in public.

The workshop itself was wonderful for so many different reasons. One reason was that many mentors came to the training to support us. We were all really nervous about the mentors not participating during the training, but they were really talkative throughout the training, which made us really happy.

Our favorite part of the most awesome mentor training ever was the Q & A panel. We felt important that so many mentors wanted our perspective on building a healthy relationship and creating a safe space. Mentors really wanted to hear about our experiences as interns. We loved facilitating our mentor training, and we are so proud that we accomplished something so big. We can’t wait until our next training on Wednesday, March 31, 2010. We hope to see some new mentors there.

To find out more about Youth Leadership Team members Kiarra Clark, Che’Graftenay Mims, Jennifer Nguyen and Thurston Zhu, please see our staff bios.

San Francisco Families Struggle to Make Ends Meet

selfsufficiencygraphThe United Way has just released a report entitled “Struggling to Make Ends Meet” that highlights the challenges many of our Bay Area families face in trying to afford basic necessities.  These results are based on the California Self-Sufficiency Standard, which calculates basic cost of living by family in each county, taking into account costs including housing, food, child care, transportation and health care costs.

Some key data from the report, which is based on 2007 Census data:

  • 18.8% of families in the city and county of San Francisco (or 45,697 households) do not earn enough income to meet basic needs.
  • 81.6% of households with income beneath the self-sufficiency standard include one or more working adults.
  • 62.8% of those with less than a high school diploma live below the self-sufficiency standard, which is 4 times higher than those with at least some college education.
  • 43.7% of African-American households and 35.6% of Latino households in San Francisco earn incomes that are inadequate to meet basic needs.

These grim statistics highlight the importance of employment programs for San Francisco youth and reinforce the need for programs such as YouthWorks to promote educational attainment by all youth participants.  Today’s youth need adequate preparation to access career pathways which include postsecondary education and prepare them for self-sufficient futures.

For the full report, see:

Interns Learning Key Skills

for blogOne key focus of this program year is fine-tuning program strategies to better prepare youth participants for future employment.  To this end, we have piloted a list of YouthWorks job readiness competencies and a number of related tools.  This list of competencies describes the 5 core skill areas that we believe youth should develop during their YouthWorks internship:

  • Learning new tasks and developing specific job skills related to the work of your department which includes skills such as filing, Microsoft Office, and using office machinery.
  • Communicating in the workplace which includes activities such as being able to ask clarifying questions and engaging in professional communication with coworkers.
  • Managing time, prioritizing tasks and demonstrating responsibility which includes items such as being punctual, meeting deadlines, and taking responsibility for accomplishments and mistakes.
  • Problem-solving in the workplace which includes skills such as handling unexpected circumstances and navigating personality conflicts.
  • Understanding and being prepared for the job search process which includes activities such as completing a resume and knowing common interview questions.

At this mid-session point of the 2009-2010 program, we are meeting with youth and mentors to discuss each youth’s progress towards mastering these competencies.  We will also document plans to support further development for the duration of each internship.

These meetings are a great opportunity to hear about all of the wonderful work youth interns have accomplished, and to give us all an opportunity to reflect on how we can continue to move forward for the rest of the program year.

Mentor Tips from the Youth Leadership Team

Our youth trainers

Our Youth Leadership Team (Jen, Che’Graftanay, Kiarra and Thurston) worked together to write this list of recommendations for creating safe environments and strong relationships for interns.

Safe Space Tips:

  • Give the intern a tour of the workspace.
  • Introduce intern to employees in the office space.
  • Make sure your intern can properly use office equipment.
  • Make sure your intern has a way of contacting you (ex: email, phone number, etc).
  • Make sure the intern knows where he or she can always find you or your alternate mentor.
  • When there’s a stressful situation, address the situation and let your intern know what’s going on. Ask how he/she feels about it and ask what you can do to help.

Mental/ Emotional Safety Tips:

  • Always encourage the intern to ask questions.
  • Listen to and respect the intern’s ideas.
  • Understand that the internship is a learning process in which the intern will make mistakes.
  • Give positive feedback to interns even for small tasks, and do something nice (ex: A ‘thank you’ card, snacks, etc).

Get to know you/Relationship Building Tips:

  • Allow yourself to be open for communication with the intern.
  • Try to establish a personal relationship with your intern (Ex: ask your intern what them what their interests are, what their dreams and goals are and how you as the mentor can assist them to reaching those dreams and goals).
  • Understand that school comes first for your intern.
  • Show your intern who you are outside of work (ex: Tell a joke, share personal experiences, etc.)
  • Show your intern how you would handle stressful situations.
  • Be friendly and approachable (ex: greet your intern when he/she comes to work).
  • Give the intern advice or suggestions regarding work, school, or personal situations.

Checking In Tips:

  • During and after a project, try to check in on your interns to see their progress and if they have any questions.
  • Emphasize to your intern that asking questions is okay.
  • Try to find time for your intern (ex: schedule meetings with intern).
  • Check in with your intern between phone calls.
  • Establish a trusting relationship with your intern (ex: give them more advanced tasks).

Mentor Spotlight: Supervisor Chris Daly

What are your past & present experiences with YouthWorks?
Our office has had great experiences with our YouthWorks interns, and it hasn’t always been about answering the phones (although there’s been a lot of that!). From our office, YouthWorks interns have helped pass environmental legislation, run multi-lingual constituent outreach efforts, and even baked award-winning desserts!

Why is it important to your office to have a YouthWorks intern?
Members of the Board of Supervisors have a whole lot of work, and we don’t have as many resources as you might think (only two legislative assistants work in each Supervisor office.) So we rely heavily on the work of interns and volunteers to help with legislation, reach out to constituents, run our offices, and, yes, answer the phones. While YouthWorks interns tend to be the youngest working in our offices, they also tend to be the most diligent and some of the most grounded in the communities we serve. Besides, we all have to be on better behavior when we are mentoring young people working in our offices!

Why do you think YouthWorks is important to high school students interested in careers within city government?
For the young people who want to make a difference in their communities, local government can be a great place to begin to make that change. As a young person, I can remember being told that I was the future. I couldn’t have disagreed more–I believed I was the present.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about having a YW intern at their office?
Young people aren’t the future, they’re the present! Get yourself a YouthWorks intern!

Mentor News

Interns Return to Work: On Monday, January 25th interns can go back to their internships and begin work again. Please keep in mind that this is the second week of the pay period, so timesheets are due the following Monday, February 1st. To see the calendar for the rest of the year, click here.

Mentor Training led by the Youth Leadership Team: On Friday, January 29th we will have the next mentor training in this year’s series. This is a very special training, led by our Youth Leadership Team, and will be about how to build relationships with young people. This is a great chance to really get to know some of our participants, and ask them everything you’ve ever wondered about high school aged youth. The workshop will be held at DCYF in suite 900 of Fox Plaza (1390 Market St @ Polk) from 12-1:30pm. Lunch will be served.

Mid Session Evaluations: This year we are changing the evaluation process to help our mentors give constructive feedback to their interns. Your Placement Specialist will be contacting you to set up a Mid Session Evaluation Meeting, to fill out the evaluation together with both mentor and intern. To review the evaluation form, click here. We hope this meeting will help our interns learn and get closer to reaching their professional goals.

Youth Spotlight: YouthWorks' Youth Leadership Team

This year, the Youth Leadership Team (YLT) is made up of four previous and current interns of YouthWorks. Every week they meet with coordinators Julia and Susannah to develop and implement workshops and other activities for the YouthWorks program. Right now the YLT is working on a training for mentors that will be held on January 29th. Here to introduce themselves are the four wonderful member of our YLT (in order from left to right in the above photo): Jennifer Nguyen (Junior at Balboa), Thurston Zhu (Senior at Lowell), Che’Graftanay Mims (Junior at Lowell), and Kiarra Clark (Senior at Galileo).

Jennifer Nguyen: I am interested in photography, photojournalism, writing, the music scene, being involved in activism, and introducing myself to strangers. After high school, I want to go to the San Francisco Art Institute for Photography. My favorite thing about YLT is definitely planning workshops and seeing them come to life. The team has successfully come together and we have made amazing progress for the current workshop we’re planning. So far, it’s been amazing to work with YLT and I’m looking forward to the next projects ahead.

Thurston Zhu: My interests include swimming, reading manga, and hanging out with friends. My favorite thing about YLT is that it lets me be creative. I can suggest almost anything to put in a workshop and I have fun while doing so. By the end of this year, I hope YLT will be able to create closer relationships between mentors and their interns so that they will get to know each other on more than just a professional level.

Che’Graftanay Mims: I love to read and listen to music. My favorite thing about YLT is that I’ve met so many new friends. One thing YLT has accomplished so far is planing out the mentor training. One thing I hope that YLT will accomplish this year is starting to plan out our own intern training.

Kiarra Clark: I enjoy being in YLT because it is out of my comfort zone. Working with others teaches you a lot about yourself and the power of working together. In my spare time I enjoy hanging with my best friends and family. I also enjoy working and making money to better my life and the life of my parents. My favorite thing about YLT is that I get the privilege of working with a team and accomplishing things together. I also enjoy the company of my team and the support we give one another.

Preparing Youth for Work through Internships in City Government