Young adults in San Francisco need job skills and experience to participate in the Bay Area’s economic growth. This summer we participated in SF Youth Jobs+ by interning at Luminalt, a locally owned solar installer. The goal of this City-wide program is to provide more than 7,000 youth, like us, between the ages of 16 and 24 with paid internship opportunities over the summer.
We worked at Luminalt for eight weeks, between June and August, for roughly 20 hours a week. In addition, we received weekly training at Matchbridge. The real life work experience coupled with these trainings on important topics like interviewing, resume building and how to be successful at work has prepared us to be more competitive in the job market.
Income disparity and displacement of working families has been a growing problem for San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in March 2014 that “between 2007 and 2012, the gap between the average household income of poor residents and that of wealthy grew more in San Francisco than any other city in the country,” citing a Brookings Institute study. We both live in the Mission, a neighborhood that has been greatly impacted by increasing income disparity and displacement of working families. SF Youth Jobs+ is a smart investment in youth that moves us forward to address this problem.
SF Youth Jobs+ requires the commitment of local employers, like Luminalt, Mayor Lee, various City departments, Matchbridge, United Way, and other nonprofits working together to invest in San Francisco youth. It also requires us youth to work hard and show our commitment to our own professional development.
Mayor Ed Lee has been a positive force in helping create jobs and internship opportunities for youth in San Francisco. He is also committed to energy efficiency, solar and waste diversion, which help our environment, but also create local jobs.
Luminalt is a locally owned solar company, located in San Francisco’s Mission District. It builds solar electric systems for single and multi-family homes, businesses and non-profits in the Bay Area. Founded in 2004, it is San Francisco’s first and only majority women owned solar company. It’s co-founder and CEO Jeanine Cotter has said “being in poverty does not define what your capabilities are, it does not define your ability to perform or your ability to succeed, what it does is limit your access to opportunities.” SF Youth Jobs+ connects us youth to those much needed opportunities and we earn income for working during our summer break.
Our work at Luminalt this summer took us to Intersolar, one of the most attended solar conferences in North America. People travel from all over the world to network and learn about the latest in solar. At Intersolar we walked the exhibit hall and learned about energy storage, battery management systems, innovative new solar products, and so much more. It was our first introduction to a professional conference.
It is time to return to school so this is the last week of our paid internship. We have done great work and provided value to Luminalt and our community. We have learned a lot. We’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the success of SF Youth Jobs+. If you know a San Francisco youth between the ages of 16 and 24, encourage them to check out http://sfyouthjobs.org/. We are glad we did!
Erika Palomo is a rising sophomore at Holy Names University. This is her second summer participating in SF Youth Jobs+. Erika graduated from Academy of Arts and Sciences after graduating from James Lick Middle School in Noe Valley.
Demetri Sakellaropoulos an incoming freshman at Rochester Institute of Technology. He graduated from Stuart Hall after graduating from Horace Mann Middle School in the Mission.
SF Youth Jobs+ is a joint initiative of the City of San Francisco, United Way of the Bay Area, the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the San Francisco Unified School District, youth-serving nonprofits and the San Francisco business community.