Thousand Strong places hundreds of young Sacramentans in paid internships
July 26 was #NationalInternDay, and social media was full of posts from people urging employers to pay their interns. Mayor Darrell Steinberg wants to see all high-school students in Sacramento have the opportunity to get paid, high-quality work experience. That's why he created the Thousand Strong program, now in its second year, which trains hundreds of young people from Sacramento neighborhoods and places them in paid internships with a broad range of employers.
In its first year, 300 high school students from ages 16-18 were placed in internships. This year the program was broadened to include a separate group of high school graduates up to 24 years old. The goal is to place 250 high school students and 250 young adults.
We're off to a strong start. More than 80 employers have signed up. Some examples: The state Department of Justice is taking 10 interns this year, up from five last year. Connect Consulting, a disaster relief consulting firm, joined the program this year and is taking two students. Two interns will work for Paragary's Restaurant Group.
Mayor Steinberg has secured more than $2 million in funding for Thousand Strong through the state, city and private donors. Some of that money is being used to subsidize paid interns placed in small non-profits that could otherwise not afford to pay them.
Here in the Mayor's Office we also employ Thousand Strong interns. John Michael Marcelo, 17, just finished his junior year at Natomas High School and will be transferring to Mira Loma High School for his senior year. He is working to create a video advertisement that will help us better publicize the Thousand Strong program.
Michelle Young, 17, will be a senior at Hiram Johnson High School in the fall. She is working creating an intern job board where City Hall interns can find tasks that need to be done.
The Mayor's Office makes an effort to provide valuable internship experience to as many young people as possible. A total of eight interns are working in the office this summer.
Research shows that quality internships give both high school and college students an advantage when it comes to landing jobs or getting into the school of their choice. Internships like Thousand Strong, which target kids from urban high schools, provide a much larger benefit than a line on a resume; they can change lives by exposing students to possibilities they had not imagined. This exposure is crucial in Sacramento, where only half of black and Latino residents continue in their education beyond high school.
In response to a 2014 survey of more than 300 employers across the United States by the Society of Human Resource Management, 45 percent said high school internships would likely lead to a full-time job with their company. Seventy percent said high school students who interned with their company would likely get an internship there while in college as well.
A study by the Brookings Institution also found that participants in a summer employment program in Boston had significantly fewer arraignments for both violent and property crimes in the year following their experience. This decline was particularly significant among black and Latino boys. Other studies have found a correlation between participation in a summer job program and academic success.
Mayor Steinberg would like to see the City expand its efforts to make sure Sacramento's young people are ready for the jobs of tomorrow. That's a big part of why he's advocating that Sacramento voters extend the half-cent Measure U sales tax in November and raise it to a penny. Half of the money from Measure U would continue to be spent on core services such as police and fire, while the other half could fund job development, youth programs and affordable housing.