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Washtenaw County program links young people with local employers for summer internships

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

Published: January 17th, 2023, 1:35pm

By Lucas Smolcic Larson |

WASHTENAW COUNTY, MI - Young people who live or attend school in Washtenaw County can find paid internships with local employers and career development through a unique program kicking off applications for 2023.

SummerWorks, the initiative pairing more than 100 young people ages 16 to 24 with local businesses and University of Michigan departments for 10-week summer internships, is entering its eighth year and looking for participants, as well as applications from employers and career mentors.

“I think it’s a really unique opportunity for young people and also employers to network across the county in different areas and different fields, and we’re always looking for people to join us,” said Kathleen Hurley, program manager with SummerWorks at the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions, a partner in the program.

In the past, employers who have participated in the initiative have included University of Michigan Athletics, artificial intelligence research firm Soar Technology, Inc. and nonprofits like SOS Community Services, among many others, according to the program website. They provide a minimum of 20 hours of internship work per week, paying $15 or $17 hourly, based on participants’ completion of a high school degree or equivalent.

“SummerWorks is a great opportunity for employers and young adults to connect in ways that they may not have otherwise. The young adults are talented and eager to learn, and the employers understand that to stay competitive they need to utilize innovative strategies and help. The program allows both parties to help each other reach their goals,” Cheranissa Roach, economic opportunity manager at Washtenaw County’s Office for Community and Economic Development, a partner in the program, said in a statement.

SummerWorks is also looking for mentors, retired or professional adults who can commit as little as an hour per week to the program.

Professional development provided to youth participants in the program includes help with skills like resume writing, interviewing and workplace professionalism, and mentors answer questions over particular career fields, as well as support participants navigating the workplace, college preparation and goal-setting.

Employers and mentors can apply to participate in SummerWorks by completing an inquiry form or application by March 19. Virtual and in-person information sessions are also scheduled Feb. 10 through March 15 on UM’s campus and at MichiganWorks! Southeast in Ypsilanti, another program partner. Michigan Rehabilitation Services also helps put on SummerWorks, and Amy Cell Talent is supporting employer recruitment.

For more information, Washtenaw County businesses and organizations can contact Kathleen Hurley at or 734-219-5141, and UM departments can contact Armeka Richey at or 734-355-4597.

Youth interested in participating in the program must reside or attend school in Washtenaw County and can apply by March 12.

“One thing that is very unique about our program is that we do have a very diverse range of employers and career fields and options every summer,” Hurley said.

That list can include local businesses looking for help on specific projects or events, or social media marketing, as well as nonprofits seeking staffing for day-to-day operations and employers in more technical fields like engineering, she added.

A similar program exists in Detroit and other major American cities, but SummerWorks is relatively unique in Michigan for serving all of Washtenaw County, not just urban areas, Hurley said.

For more information on SummerWorks, see the program website.

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