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The Vital Role of Youth Work Experiences in Building a Long Term Talent Pipeline

Spotlight on Corewell Health’s Growth Internship

When you think of young people getting summer jobs, you might think of childcare, fast food or retail work. Although each of those types of experiences teaches valuable skills and lessons, there are other options for youth employment. We believe it’s essential to show both employers and potential employees that opportunities exist - or can be made available - in a broad range of sectors. Offering summer jobs, developing internships or creating apprenticeships for young people can help to build our long-term talent pipeline across Michigan.

As part of our Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) Workforce Pathways Program, we’re proud to work with Corewell Health, who offers their GROWTH Internship to youth within the communities surrounding Benton Harbor and Niles. In its fourth year, this exemplary internship program offers students who are 16-19 years old an opportunity to participate in a seven-week program that includes a combination of guided, real-world experience and work training at a range of careers in the healthcare sector. Students who are a part of the program get paid work experiences that will help them formulate a career plan. They learn a diverse set of skills that prepare them for a career in healthcare, which is a field that has an abundance of jobs available.

One of our JMG program participants from Benton Harbor High School, Anijah Dancer, is participating in the GROWTH Internship. Anijah is a dynamo that has a bright future ahead of her. She’s had an incredibly busy summer, working daily at Corewell Health and then also working in the evenings at Walmart. Motivated youth who are interested in healthcare careers are exactly why this internship program was created.

Anijah and Alijah pictured at the GROWTH Internship Kickoff onboarding event in May

We want to make sure that students are given this opportunity to explore and have exposure to the numerous careers in healthcare,” said Ashlee Oxford, Supervisor of Community Programs, who works with the GROWTH Internship program at Corewell Health. “We wanted to provide more access and opportunities to clinical and other hospital positions for youth, in order to increase diversity across our organization.” Oxford continued to say that “Increasing the diversity of our team will help us improve the quality of care that we give to our patients. Programs such as this benefit not only the employer but the entire community as we work to create a talent pool among our friends and neighbors.”

Summer work experiences for youth have the power to shape their personal and professional growth. Those who participate in our JMG program spend the school year learning skills that help them be successful in the workplace and in life. Summer jobs, internships and apprenticeships give them the opportunity to put their learned skills into practice. Working with Employer Partners, our team helps youth across Michigan gain access to a variety of career experiences. Collaborating with employers, we’ve learned that there is a blueprint for creating meaningful opportunities for young individuals which include:

  1. Defining your objectives: Before launching an internship or apprenticeship program, employers should have clear objectives. Consider what skills and knowledge you want to impart to the participants and how these experiences will align with your long-term talent needs. By establishing these objectives, you can ensure that your program is purposeful and mutually beneficial.

  2. Designing structured learning experiences: Summer work, internships or apprenticeship programs should offer structured learning experiences that provide a balance between hands-on work and educational components. This approach ensures that participants gain practical skills while also receiving the guidance and support from more seasoned professionals.

  3. Providing meaningful projects: Engage interns and apprentices in projects that contribute to the organization’s goals. Assign tasks that align with their interests and skills so they can make a tangible contribution.

  4. Evaluation, Feedback and Mentoring: Regularly assess the participant’s progress and performance. Provide constructive feedback to help them understand their strengths and areas for improvement. Provide mentoring and networking opportunities that encourage both the employee and their superiors to share their experiences and insights. Employers can also gain a wealth of good feedback from the youth participants!

  5. Compensation and Recognition: It’s essential to acknowledge the value of the participant’s contributions. Provide paid experiences wherever possible. You may even consider performance-based incentives to encourage a sense of pride and belonging in their contributions. Recognize that these interns or apprentices are young and will need coaching. Giving them the opportunity to grow can go a long way in motivating young individuals, encouraging them to consider longer term employment with your company.

Employers in other industries can take inspiration from such initiatives like Corewell Health’s Growth Internship and consider developing similar programs tailored to their sectors. Internships and apprenticeships are excellent ways to extend your recruiting efforts and build your long-term talent pipeline. We are always looking for Employer Partners to take part in our experiential learning opportunities for youth. If you are interested in learning more, please CONTACT US.

What are some creative or innovative ways you are using to encourage younger workers to consider your company as a future employer? Please share on our LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Follow our Youth Solutions Twitter and Facebook pages as well!


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