Free summer program offers job skills training for Southeast Michigan youth

Young adult job-seekers are being invited to expand their employment potential through #MI-Internship Prep, a free summer internship preparation course. The program is an initiative of Michigan Works! Southeast and Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates. The four-week virtual course is open to young adults ages 16-24 years old.

"It's basically essential job training that will apply no matter what your job choices," says Chad Gibbs, who oversees Michigan Works! Southeast's Adult Education program. "Youth learn interview skills and do practice interviews. They learn resume-building and leave with a resume. That's important, because some youth don't have a lot of work experience."

Teachers will also guide participants in other important areas, such as appropriate behavior on the job, employer expectations, and how to understand employee handbooks. Other subjects, such as understanding workers' rights and financial literacy, are also covered. 

"Some participants may have been working for a while and others may have never opened a bank account," Gibbs says. "Whatever the situation, we want to help them understand the importance of starting to save immediately."

On Fridays, the program will feature a guest speaker from a regional company, who will reinforce previous learning and allow youth the opportunity to gain real-life insight from potential employers. Featured companies will range from small operations to bigger names such as Ford Motor Co.

"It's really a team and community effort to get people recruited and connected to skills," Gibbs says. "Everything participants do in the program really benefits themselves, which then, of course, helps us with workforce development. So it all kind of goes hand-in-hand."

He adds that the program includes career aptitude analysis, in which youth assess their own skills, abilities, and traits. Then, teachers will help them align with categories of careers they might be interested in.

"Sometimes it's enlightening and often fun," Gibbs says. "They find out things they really weren't expecting, or discover choices that they weren't thinking were going to be out there."

Program cohorts will run throughout the summer, with the next one launching June 10 in Jackson. Gibbs reports that there were approximately 100 program participants last year. Nearly 80% of program graduates have either started job training, gotten a job, or had multiple job interviews. 

"We have students who have asked their teacher to stay after class because they want to practice for an interview coming up, and then they get the job," he says. "So we're also a real confidence-builder. That's important, especially for newer, younger job-seekers."

Jaishree Drepaul is a writer and editor based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at

Photo courtesy of Michigan Works! Southeast.
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