Work-ready internships give students chance to explore interests while fueling CITC’s mission
During his sophomore year at West High, Alex Reyes spent a few months working on computers and learning programming through an internship he landed with Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s (CITC) Information Technology (IT) department.
When summer rolled around and Alex didn’t have another job lined up, his case manager told him about a new opportunity through a summer internship with CITC’s Career Ready Youth Intern program. Alex was one of 33 Alaska Native and American Indian youth ages 14 to 18 who received eight-week, part-time work placement internships through the program this summer.
TANF Youth Case Manager Claude Adams leads the Career Ready Youth Intern summer program, and said the experience is about more than staying busy and making a little money. Through pre-placement training and intensive supervision, interns are assigned to educational or support roles within CITC or partnering agencies, and learn invaluable workplace behaviors and attitudes—enthusiasm, teamwork, empathy and responsibility.
“When they received their first paycheck, they were so excited!” Claude said. “They have a feeling of being part of an organization, a part of a team. They feel like they’re important and that they’re worth so much.”
After a summer of greeting visitors in CITC’s Welcome Center and doing everything from answering phones to jumpstarting participants’ vehicles when needed, Alex said proudly, “I’m glad I did it. The environment was so supportive—everybody’s so nice.”
Karen Zeedar said her mom got the call from Claude when she was accepted for the intern position at Coho Cup café. “We were both really excited. I like coffee!” she said laughing. “It’s something I’ve always liked growing up.”
Coho Cup Barista Lester Sanchez of Chanlyut saw her work ethic and advocated for her to receive full barista training through Caffé D’Arte..
“She can take her certification anywhere as proof of her work experience, and she’ll have glowing reviews from me and my supervisor,” Lester said.
Some youth discovered new possible careers through their experience. Susan Hawkins is a senior at Service High and aims to attend University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) to study criminology, journalism, and now—after a summer interning with Koahnic Broadcasting’s KNBA radio station—radio production.
In addition to learning the radio production and underwriting process alongside KNBA’s Operations & Production Coordinator, Frank Chythlook, Susan was offered the chance to help create material for a regular Saturday morning show called Stories of Our People. She ran with the opportunity to build the show’s library of interviews with Alaska Native elders, storytellers and other leaders, creating half again as many new segments as the station had previously compiled.
“I was like, score!” Susan said. “It’s really got me thinking about actually becoming a radio producer after college.”
After the program’s success this summer, Claude is looking toward expanding the internship next year to serve more than 50 youth who are currently meeting academic success requirements.
If you or someone you know might be a good fit for this program, please contact Claude Adams at (907) 793-3318. To learn how you can support Career Ready Youth Internship opportunities for qualifying students, please contact Kelly Hurd at (907) 793-3272.