AHRC New York City’s Young Adult Internship Program
While volunteering for an organization in his community, Garey Santano heard about AHRC New York City’s Young Adult Internship Program (YAIP), which provides paid internship opportunities for people ages 16 to 24 who are out of school and unemployed, as well as job placement assistance, assistance in obtaining a GED, guidance in preparing for college applications, and information about financial aid for higher education.
“This is a very rare opportunity for people in my position,” says Garey. “For me, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.” When Garey was a kid, he dreamed of becoming a chef, and YAIP is helping him to learn more about culinary arts.
Garey’s interests also include technology, and he joined YAIP with a hope that his internship would lead to part-time work that would allow him to pursue a degree in either mechanical or computer engineering.
Each YAIP session begins with three weeks of classroom-based skill building in which participants practice interviewing skills, build their resumes, and participate in discussions about the workplace. On Friday, August 8, 2014, the members of the current session learned about discrimination in the workplace through a discussion led by Melissa Limeri, who works as an instructor for the program. Melissa provided the class with handouts of a worksheet titled Is This Discrimination?
Working in small groups, the cohort members discussed several written scenarios describing potential cases of discrimination. The groups were asked to decide if each provided scenario either did or did not constitute discrimination. The discussion that followed incorporated each member of the classroom, as they delivered their findings. One of the cohort members, Joseph Cosenza noted that it’s important to have a wide variety of people in the workplace, because each person can contribute to a successful outcome by bringing their own perspective to bear. Through discussions about workplace environments, people participating in the program learn how to communicate, work together, and find success in their chosen careers.
After the classroom training, the program continues with an 11-week paid internship for each participating young adult. They can choose to intern in retail, maintenance, or culinary arts fields. Garey Santano chose to learn more about cooking, and began his internship through Project Renewal, which hosts a culinary arts kitchen that caters to homeless people and veterans.
“I’m really enjoying the internship,” says Garey. “I’ve developed the ability to know what is needed [in a recipe] by smelling, as opposed to tasting. Certain herbs can be used to change the overall flavor, and according to the ingredients you use, you can make a variety of tastes.”
Through his internship, Garey is able to see what his work means to people. He has had the opportunity to practice his skills, and also to work at the events where his food is distributed. Garey has been invited to continue to train at the culinary arts kitchen when his internship period ends. His participation in YAIP has made Garey rethink the steps he will need to take to reach his career goals. He continues to envision a college degree in engineering, but he hopes to combine this with his love for cooking. “I’d like to start off by working in corporate kitchens to earn money for school, and maybe one day I can learn enough to create a process that produces healthier foods.”
“The skills you learn [through YAIP] are very helpful,” says Garey. “They’re committed to helping you reach your goals, and they encourage you to take the initiative as they point you in the right direction.”
Additional stories of young adults from the current YAIP cohort are available on AHRC New York City’s Facebook page. CLICK HERE to read more!
The Young Adult Internship Program, (YAIP) is funded by the Department of Youth and Community Development, (DYCD). They are very supportive in coordinating and partnering with AHRC New York City in helping to change lives of young adults in New York City for the better, by connecting them to employment or educational opportunities.