Youth employer partners: The Makers Space makes career connections for interns

The Makers Space is a lovely co-working space in the heart of Seattle. A co-working space is where freelancers or small business can convene and have workspace and amenities that are usually offered in an office setting. The workspace functions with multiple membership options, as well as individual day passes, allowing people to be flexible with the way they want to work.  It also doubles as an event space and is available to rent for various occasions.

The space was opened five years ago by two women, who just recently sold it to new owners. The Makers Space began hosting interns through their partnership with the Seattle Youth Employment Program in the spring and summer of 2017, then hosted another intern through a partnership with Juma for a Fall 2018.

We spoke to Sharis Kevin, the Operations Director of the Makers Space about her experience hosting interns. Before hiring interns, she was the only full-time staff besides the two owners and was handling the high volume of traffic from their roughly 170 members solo; clearly, she was in dire need for extra help. The spring and summer interns in 2017 overlapped, so Kevin had two extra sets of hands. The interns were front desk associates, and only 16 and 18 years old, much younger than Kevin was used to working with. Even so, Kevin calls hosting interns a “great experience, saying, “to have someone at the front desk who we know is going to greet every person who comes in, and for me to be able to step away and have some time to get my own projects done, that was really helpful.”

Kevin discussed the importance of having third party support in the creation of their internship. Through their partnership with SYEP, the Makers Space was able to formulate an internship that was beneficial to the students involved, as well as their organization.

Not only did the interns help the organization run, hosting them allowed the organization to live up to its values and standards. Since the space is community oriented, Kevin urges the interns to set goals and find ways to grow in their personal life, career, or health. To many teenagers, these types of programs might be the first time they have a structured time to map out specific goals. It was also important for the interns to be a little out of their comfort zone and get them to speak to people they usually wouldn’t be connected to.

The former intern of The Makers Space, Bonita.

Besides the mutually beneficial program, the most memorable experience was the fun they had. Kevin stated that “having this fun new energy around that was so different… I’m an operations director, so I’m always thinking about ‘what do we need to do, what do we need to get done, busy busy busy.’ And it was just nice to have this younger energy that was just here to learn and open to growing. And with that, really great humor.” Working with the interns brought a different dynamic to the workplace.

Kevin spoke about the importance of making the interns feel encouraged; it was important to create a space to connect with the interns on a personal level. Having discussions about bigger goals, work experience, and utilizing the internship for future opportunities was a large aspect of hosting interns for the Makers Space. Students’ intern placements are another avenue for their education – so everything is a learning opportunity.

As for other businesses who are thinking about hosting interns, Kevin advises them to create a clear project plan for their interns, so they can expect daily responsibilities and a structured experience. She also goes on to advise business owners to gauge the capabilities of their interns; many times the students are underestimated, so giving them a challenge is always important.

Are you a business interested in hosting interns? You may be able host interns through the Office of Economic Development’s internship program. You can learn more about how Educurious can provide your business comprehensive on-boarding, training, and support throughout the internship process by visiting their website. Businesses may also offer other career-connected learning opportunities here.