By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Madison Price is an ambitious 17-year-old who attends Nova Classical Academy during the school year. This summer, the Midway resident has a paid internship with the city of St. Paul’s Department of Safety and Inspections.
Price said, “I’m learning about zoning requirements and regulations, which will help me down the road when I open my own child care business. I see myself being an entrepreneur once I graduate from college. I plan to attend a Historical Black College or University, maybe Spellman or Howard.”
Price is part of a city of St. Paul Parks and Recreation program called Right Track.
According to program supervisor Shaina Abraham, “There are more than 700 students ages 14-24 participating in our program currently, and there will be 100-150 on board during the school year. The city of St. Paul is working toward broader inclusivity across its workforce – and this is one way to get there faster. Youth in our program are getting life exposure to real jobs in several city of St. Paul departments, non-profit organizations, and businesses.”
Right Track’s mission is to enhance St. Paul’s workforce by providing career readiness opportunities and work experience for under-resourced youth.
In St. Paul, 24% of youth are unemployed, including disproportionately high numbers of youth of color. It’s no secret that Minnesota ranks high when it comes to racial disparities. Right Track exists to connect youth from low-income families (or youth facing other barriers to employment) with meaningful work, so they will be better prepared to thrive in the workplace.
On a computer track
In his second summer with Right Track, 19-year-old Midway resident KaDeane Smith has begun an internship with St. Paul Public Schools Facilities Department.
Smith is also a student in St. Paul College’s Gateway to College, where he can finish high school while beginning college. He hopes to continue his education at Full Sail University in Florida in a year or two, focusing on designing and developing computer games.
At SPPS this summer, his internship will introduce him to Management Information Systems (MIS), computer assisted design (CAD), accounting, and administrative skills.
Be a Right Track supervisor
Right Track participants attend two launch dates before their internships begin. They meet their job coaches right away, and are introduced to topics that will be revisited throughout the summer including professional email and telephone etiquette, Microsoft Excel, networking skills, budgeting, personal finance, and public speaking.
Supervisor Shaina Abrahamson said, “I’ve worked with youth, families, and communities for more than 20 years. What’s exciting to me about working with Right Track is, of course, working with kids – but also helping supervisors to grow along with the changing workforce. The next generation of workers is going to look very different when the Baby Boomers retire.”
Just like the Right Track youth, supervisors attend training before summer internships start. They learn about cultural competency and diversity, and how to give their interns a voice and a sense of empowerment in their workplace.
It’s not too early to start thinking about hiring a Right Track intern for next summer. Benefits to employers include access to a talented pool of diverse youth interns at a reasonable cost (approximately $1,500 per intern). Right Track staff provides youth recruitment, screening, and placement; two days of work-readiness training before the internship and ongoing training while employed; orientation and training for workplace supervisors; and on-site job coaching and mentorship for interns as needed.
These organizations provided Right Track internships last year: https://www.stpaul.gov/sites/default/files/Media Root/Parks %26 Recreation/YJ02_employer_logos_1_websiteImage.PNG
For information on becoming an intern in 2020, contact Right Track at 651-266-6363 or RightTrack@ci.stpaul.mn.us.