By Miguel Estevez Osorio and Von Te’Kwan Dalton, high school summer interns for the Office of Equity and Social Justice and Public Health-Seattle & King County (respectively) through King County’s Lift Every Youth Employment & Mentorship Program Pilot.
Recently, King County Executive Dow Constantine met with some of us summer interns from King County’s Lift Every Youth Employment and Mentorship Program Pilot, and Performance, Strategy and Budget’s undergraduate and graduate summer internship initiative.
Deputy King County Executive Rhonda Berry, Director of Employee Engagement Whitney Abrams, and Arun Sambataro, Equity Strategies Manager with the Office of Equity and Social Justice also joined us. We had the opportunity to meet with Executive Constantine and hear him speak about the importance of being involved at the local and county levels of government, as well as share our own experiences.
He started the conversation by having everyone introduce themselves and the projects that they are working on for the county. The conversation showed the incredibly diverse range of interests and skills, and the Executive seemed impressed by the scope of the projects being handled. He praised departments’ ability to design creative projects, such as learning about cyber security and how the county works to prevent people from hacking into county systems.
The Executive also spoke about his own motivations for public service and the importance of civic duty in his own life, and Rhonda Berry gave clear examples of his priorities as Executive, and his commitment to our community.
Deputy Executive Berry also discussed how invested the Executive is in making King County welcoming and inclusive to create the best environment possible for all communities here: “The Executive’s priorities are all aligned to make King County the best it can be.”
Executive Constantine shared why this internship program was particularly important to him: because many employees who work for the county started as interns, and from there built experience and the knowledge to want to come back and be successful as fulltime employees.
Director Employee Engagement Whitney Abrams then provided a look into the internal side of the Executive Office, and asked us several questions about what we as interns wanted out of a county job. For example, she asked us what young people in the workforce look for to make work comfortable and worthwhile. The question of what an ideal work environment would look like for us led to answers about how interns value the importance of health benefits, an environment that allows us to grow in other areas and skills, work that we are interested in doing, and knowing that our work is valued and makes a difference in our communities. “It was enlightening and affirming to hear the perspective of our interns and what they are looking for in their careers and by extension, their employers. They expressed overwhelming commitment to public service, learning and growth, social justice, and a positive work environment. — All areas that are priorities within our Investing in You Initiative.”
Executive Constantine seemed impressed that we are already considering these things at our age. He agreed, saying that years from now, he wants to feel satisfied as he looks out the window and sees the impacts of all the work that he and county staff have done during his time in office.
During our time with Executive Constantine and his staff, we learned a lot about why they think internships are important. “We need more young people in King County,” they said… “The average age of a King County employee is 57. So I hope some of you want to come work for us in the future!” Executive Constantine said.
We enjoyed having time with him and his staff to have candid discussions about our projects, future steps, positions at the county, and other subjects. And it made us appreciate this internship experience even more.