15 Jun Blazing a Trail
Kristen Stuyvesant’s experience receiving services from CITC as a youth helps her empower the people she serves
When Kristin Stuyvesant was an administrative assistant, each time she would greet people who came to CITC’s Employment and Training Services Department, she would think, I used to be there, too.
“Because I was in the position of being a participant, it gives me that state of mind: I was in this position, so I know how helpful it is when people offer assistance,” she said.
A Step in the Right Direction
Kristin, who now works full-time as a CITC job coach, started her journey with CITC when she was only fourteen or fifteen. Back then, her mother received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Kristin wanted to find a way to earn additional income for her household, so CITC staff connected her with a Youth Employment Program (YEP) internship.
YEP internships place young people ages 14 – 24 with CITC departments for 10 – 12 weeks at a time. The program aims to help youth gain work experience and develop their professional skills. Interns also receive mentoring and access to other CITC services.
“When I first started, it was just because [my family] was low income and needed extra assistance to pay bills,” Kristin recalled. “But eventually, I realized how family-oriented CITC felt. I definitely wanted to stay here.”
Making the Grades
Over three years, Kristin interned with several different CITC departments. The on-the-job training gave her a wide variety of experiences and helped her figure out the kind of work she might like to do, long-term.
It also helped her keep her grades up in school: “I was close to dropping out of high school,” Kristin recalled. “My supervisors said they’d give me time to work on school work during my office hours. They said, ‘We want you to graduate.’”
One mentor reminded Kristin, No one’s ever going to ask you how long it took you to graduate. Hearing that was transformative for Kristin. She not only graduated from high school, but went on to gain administrative training through CITC’s partnership with Northern Industrial Training, which helped her advance in her administrative position.
An Even Better Path
Interning at CITC became a family affair: Kristin’s brother, Paulie, also interned, starting with CITC’s IT department alongside his sister. Now, Kristin is encouraging her fourteen-year-old cousin to apply for a YEP internship.
“I’m like, ‘This internship will pay you!’ I think that’s a big thing for kids,” she said. “I’m encouraging him to get involved. I started my career because of this internship. It gave me a path to move onto an even better path, versus living at a low income level and dealing with hardships. I’ve become successful in my eyes—so I use that to encourage him.”
Today, Kristin has moved up within the organization and now works as a job coach, helping others find meaningful employment.
“It feels good knowing I help others and that they leave feeling better about themselves and their opportunities,” she said.