The Intern Chronicles: A Young Man's On-the-Job Training, Part 1

Photograph of a young man reading a computer screen.

We're focusing on education and employment this month at NCFY, so we're reposting some of our favorite articles on those subjects. Here, we revisit the first article in a three-part series following Craig, a former shelter resident working as a part-time intern to help his peers. The series first ran in spring and summer 2012.

Meet Craig, resident-turned-intern at Sea Haven for Youth, a runaway and homeless youth program in North Myrtle Beach, SC.

Craig’s a college student working on a degree in human services. In his spare time, he performs comedy. As Sea Haven’s transitional living program intern, he helps with the tasks needed to take in new clients, like filling out forms and telling youth about the program’s policies and procedures. Sometimes, he goes to local high schools to talk to teens about Sea Haven and how it can help them. He also does things like answering the phones and filing.

Finding—and keeping—a part-time or summer job can be stressful for young people, especially those who are learning to live independently after having been homeless. NCFY is following Craig’s experience over the next few months to give a snapshot of the ups and downs of summer employment for young people in runaway and homeless youth programs.

Benefits of Interning

Melissa McGrath, director of the transitional living program and Craig’s boss and mentor, believes she can do much more than give Craig a paycheck this summer.

Though the money will certainly help Craig out, he’s also getting on-the-job experience and the same training that a regular staff person would get: how to follow agency policies and procedures, how to maintain professional boundaries with colleagues and youth clients. He’s also hoping to find out whether human services is the right education and career track for him.

McGrath thinks there’s a good chance the answer will be yes.

“Craig was easily chosen for this position because of his accomplishments in the program, his maturity level and his experiences while being homeless,” she says. “He can tell a client how the program worked for him and how it can work for them.”

Showing Initiative

After only three weeks on the job, Craig has already come up with a roulette-style game that he and other Sea Haven staff can use to educate high school students about homelessness and the Sea Haven transitional living program.

So far Craig says of the internship: “It helps me feel better and allows me to give back to people who are going through the same things I have been through.”

Tips: Prepping Youth for Summer Jobs and Internships

1. Help youth write their resumes by holding a clinic or giving one-on-one instruction and feedback.

2. Prepare youth for job interviews by role playing and helping them think about what questions to expect and how to answer them.

3. Teach youth how to read a paycheck stub.

4. Set clear goals about being on time, having a professional demeanor and taking initiative on the job.

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