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Fresno EOC Employment and Training Services continues to serve and provide paid internships to youth throughout time that Fresno County grapples with the COVID-19 global pandemic.  This summer, opportunities have expanded to offer youth internships county-wide. These internships allow recent high school graduates to get hands-on training with employers in rapidly growing industries.

“If there is a youth who lives in a rural area and wants an internship, we don’t want to restrict them to just the city of Fresno,” said Patrick Turner, Assistant Director for Employment and Training. “For our youth who apply this is sometimes their first opportunity to work. Although many of the traditional avenues have dried up because of COVID-19, we continue to make partnerships with employers wanting to work with youth.”

This summer, internships have expanded to cities such as Mendota, Huron, San Joaquin, Parlier, Orange Cove and other communities within the greater Fresno Metropolitan area. Opportunities have expanded to better fit the needs of youth and pair them with work-sites on a county-wide basis.

“We are pursuing expanded partnerships that will allow us to provide additional internships and youth in Fresno County,” said Jeff Davis, Director of Employment and Training. “If successful, we will use this as a model to pursue other corporate and private partnerships to further expand our summer employment and give youth greater employment prospects in a changing economic landscape.”

With funding from the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), the program this summer has been able to offer 25 summer internship spots to youth. These are funds provided to entities addressing conditions of poverty in low-income communities. Because of the investment of CSBG into the summer youth internship program, additional potential funding sources have opened up the possibility to offer more internships.

“Community Block Grant funding recognized this important need and stepped up as a result,” said Kip Bowmar, EOC’s Planning and Evaluation Department Director. “With this funding we were able to leverage $25,000 and then seek an additional $15,000 in corporate funding from Wells Fargo, which (if successful) will allow the program to grow from 25 to 38 slots. Additional potential funding beyond Wells Fargo will allow the program to create a total 42 internship spots. Without the flexible and catalytic funding of CSBG none of this would have occurred.”

These spots will offer local youth paid work experience and comes during a time the United States is facing the highest unemployment rate since The Great Depression.  The Department of Labor reported that the April’s unemployment rate in the US rose to 14.4%.

The picture is even more dire in Fresno County as the unemployment rate has gone from 8.5% in February to a revised 11.1% for March to 16.7% in April, According to the California Employment Development Department (EDD). That is an increase of 95% in less than three months. That is on top of a Fresno County poverty rate of 21.3% in 2019, according to US Census Bureau data, which ranks the county 55th out of 58 overall. 

Denise Rangel was an intern for Fresno EOC LGBTQ+ Resource Center during the summer and winter months. Rangeo helped with outreach, support groups, Art Hop events, paint nights and other activities at the center. 

“I got out of my comfort zone,” Rangel said. “It was my first job and I was nervous but I was able to get customer service experience I can take back with me to any job, no matter the field.” 

Rangel is attending Fresno City right now and is majoring in Radiology. She’s thankful for the opportunity she got to work at the center and get job experience, but also learn how to work in a professional working environment. The internship also gave her exposure to her first interview, resume skills and how to dress professionally.

“This is a good experience especially if you’re just getting out of high school and are looking for work experience,” Rangel said. “It allowed me to focus on school because my internship hours were during my break and I didn’t have to juggle going to school or work at the same time. If I had summer school, I knew they would be flexible around that too.”

Employment and Training encourages interns to pursue post-secondary education. It has long been a goal of the program to assist students with increasing their academic competencies and prepare them to enter the world of work or higher education.

The application deadline for youth to apply is June 19, 2020 at 5 pm. If you have any questions concerning the application process, please call (559) 263-1100. Selected summer internship candidates will be contacted by June 26, 2020.

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