This year, AFJ’s HIRE Up program has focused largely on job readiness and workforce development. We increased the number of onsite OSHA-30 training classes, added CPR, food protection and food handlers certification classes, and hosted two Workforce1job fairs. These trainings have culminated in our second cohort of interns who have just hit the midway point of their 125-hour, 8-week internships. To date, we have 26 Participants interning at diverse local businesses, the majority of which are BIPOC-owned, ranging from yoga studios to events and catering companies.
Spearheaded by Court Advocates Shantel and Julia, the success of the internship program has led several Participants to refer their friends to AFJ to see if they could benefit from our wraparound services. In some cases, these referrals had unresolved legal matters which AFJ was able to assist them with. Shantel noted that one Participant was having issues with their job placement and by communicating that to their court advocate, AFJ was able to promptly reassign them to a more suitable internship opportunity. Shantel felt that it was a “huge sign of professional development” on the part of the Participant. Julia was particularly impressed with one intern who was tasked with creating marketing materials for the gym they were working for. Our Participant was struggling to understand the task and so they called Julia and had a fruitful brainstorming session.
Among the 26 Participants who are interning this Fall, eight are still in high school. They have successfully been able to balance work life with school, learning invaluable time management skills. Anyone who has had a full time job understands that time management is as critical of a skill as the job itself. These eight interns have impressed both AFJ and their employers. One of our business partners noted how their intern “is helpful, motivated, and eager to learn. They are a blessing for our business.”
Our Participants eagerly sharedtheir thoughts about their internship placements:
PARTICIPANT 1: Gym
“It’s going really well. I want guests to feel comfortable, that everything is clean. When people show up, I greet them and check them in. If they’re new, I give them a tour before their class and make sure they know where they can put their bags, get water etc.
I am willing to gain whatever experience I can. I love working with my colleagues, many of which are formerly incarcerated. I think that this internship program is really good. It’s a stepping stone, something you can add to your resume. It’s great for the youth to get opportunities.”
PARTICIPANT 2: Yoga
“You have to prove those who doubt you wrong because I felt like my family thought I wouldn’t be able to have a job while maintaining school and I feel like I proved to them that I could!”
PARTICIPANT 3: Clothing Store
“I help organize the clothes, steam clothes, put them on racks, if I see anything that looks off, I fix it as quickly as I can. I really like it there, the people that work there are really cool and we get along well.
I think the internship program is great. Shantel and Julia are really good people and help out a lot. Everything is going smoothly on my end!”
PARTICIPANT 4: Event Space
“My role is to keep the event space clean at all times. Before and after events, I set up and strike decorations, chairs etc. Throughout the planning process I meet with all of the parties involved and they ask for my opinion every step of the way. I feel really valued by my coworkers and I feel like I am growing and learning from them.
I feel like I don’t have to go out as much because work is fun and it feels like I am going out with my friends. Work doesn’t feel like work, it feels like home.
The thing I have learned the most is patience, and they have been patient with me. Patience has always been a struggle with me and I love being challenged in this role. I have always wanted to do decorating and event planning and this job feels like something I can grow with. It felt like a door opened for me. These internships are really amazing, it’s giving us the change to get to know people and make money while doing something that we like”