On September 29th, I attended the annual fundraiser dinner for Reaching and Empowering All People (REAP), a school mentoring program. REAP is dedicated to providing resources and opportunities that will lead individuals, youth, and diverse communities to empowerment, leadership, and increased success.
At this dinner, I was introduced to Mahn Saechao by Tiffani Penson, the Summer Youth Connect Bureau Support Manager. Mahn is the first Summer Youth Connect participant to transition to a permanent City of Portland employee. She is now thriving as an
Procurement Assistant in Procurement Services. Summer Youth Connect is the internship program initiated by Mayor Adams and funded with the support of the entire Council and City Bureaus designed to provide valuable work experiences in bureaus for youth 16-21 years old. These internships provide youth from all over Multnomah County with an opportunity to learn first-hand what city bureaus are responsible for and how they serve the community. thus introducing youth to possible career paths. Our city staff welcome and enjoy mentoring these diverse groups of youth and find the experience very valuable for both staff and interns.
Many people challenged the Council for spending scarce funding on the youth apprenticeship and scholarship programs. Mahn's story is just one example of how the investment paid off, providing a young person from Parkrose with a series of job opportunities, and the City with a new perspective and a bright hardworking employee. Here is an excerpt from Mahn's account of her experiences:
College career connect counselor Meg Kilmer at Parkrose High School informed me my junior year of an internship opportunity with the City of Portland. Ms. Kilmer suggested I apply for the City of Portland School to Work Program. I submitted my resume and cover letter, and was hopeful I’d be selected as one of the five interns. When I met Tiffani Penson, the program coordinator for the School to Work Program, she said she saw a lot of potential in me and she wanted to help me be successful in my future.
On July 2nd, 2007, I was hired as a Community Service Aide with the Bureau of Development Services (BDS). I was placed in the Customer Service Center at BDS with Tiffani Penson as my mentor. Working at BDS, I learned a lot of basic office clerical skills, and learned how to communicate in a professional office environment.
In 2009 I received a phone call from Ms. Penson. She offered me an internship position as her Assistant in the Summer Youth Connect (SYC) Program she was managing... One month after the SYC internship ended, I received a call from Tiffani informing me there was a position with the Portland Bureau of Transportation working for Rich Eisenhauer. Rich has been a great mentor, he encouraged me to apply for all entry level positions. When I received notice that my position with Transportation was coming to an end [after two years], I was a little worried. I saw an entry level position as a Procurement Assistant, and Tiffani encouraged me to go for it. They offered me the position and I was extremely happy. I now knew that all my time spent working as a Summer Youth Connect intern was going to pay off.
Mahn’s full story can be found here, telling how Summer Youth Connect helped her find the pathway to a career in public service. I also appreciate knowing of Tiffani's diligence as a mentor, seeing great potential in Mahn and staying in touch so she was made aware of opportunities to work in various City bureaus. And I liked hearing how Chief Procurement Officer Christine Moody, Purchasing Manager Barbara Gibson and Construction Supervisor Kathleen Brenes-Moura helped Mahn and truly believe in the mission of investing in our young people.
High School students interested in being invited to apply for next summer's internship program may contact Tiffani Penson at 503-823-7785 or call 503-823-4000 next spring to be guided to the online application.