Campus Community

Foot in the Door

Written by Mike Thee

September 14, 2015

closeup of bright pink and red flowers on campus

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Nearly 20 area youth completed internships at Seattle University this summer as participants in the Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP). 

Operated by the Human Services Department of the City of Seattle, SYEP is offers a seven-week paid internship for Seattle youth 15-19 years of age from low-income families or those with educational or employment barriers. 

This summer 17 students, including five from the Bailey Gatzert area, worked at SU in a number of capacities. Interns were placed in 10 offices and departments across campus: College of Education, Facilities, Student Development Administration, Admissions, Alumni Relations, Center for Community Engagement, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Library, University of Recreation and Athletics. 

Four of the interns worked with Gary Fernandes, laboratory manager in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One intern created a series of prints to spruce up the Bannan and Engineering buildings. Others worked on projects on electricity and robotics. At the end of the program, Fernandes and the interns held a robot-making workshop.

"Each of the four SYEP intern I supervised was given a challenging project to develop his or her skillsets and confidence and have the outcome of the project deliver a product that would benefit the campus or the electronic-engineering community," says Fernandes. "It is important to work with these youth early and set them up to succeed." 

This was the sixth summer SU participated in SYEP. The university is typically among the top sites for the total number of interns hosted, says Isa Chong, human resources consultant and lead university contact for the program. She adds that two former interns are currently enrolled at SU. 

"Through the program, youth develop necessary job skills through coaching and mentoring," says Chong. "As a training site, we provide youth with valuable work experience and equip youth with the proper tools to be competitive candidates and successful employees in future employment." 

With the city covering the wages paid to the interns, the only cost that university partners need to take on is insurance for each intern through Labor and Industries, which is minimal. The real commitment, Chong says, "is in the form of time to attend an orientation and to train and guide interns." 

To learn more about hosting an intern next summer through SYEP, contact Isa Chong at

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