Paid internship program offers young San Franciscans summer opportunity

Young people in San Francisco are keeping busy this summer thanks to a program called Opportunities For All. The program aims to connect teens and young workers with paid internships, and a possible career path.

With the end of the school year young people from 13 to 24 are gearing up for a busy summer working as paid interns in San Francisco as part of the Opportunities For All program; a program the mayor launched in 2019, hoping a new generation of kids benefit from mentors as she did. "It was more than just about money," said Mayor London Breed. "It was about an opportunity. It was about people who believed in me when I didn't really believe in myself."

The program connects young people with employers. 13-year-old Ruby Raynaldo West will spend her summer working in her first real job. "Actually I'm doing marketing and I think it's sales," said Raynaldo West. "It's something like that."

The city's public defender’s office is one of the work places offering internships, the public defender says the program provides young people valuable experience. "If they want to join us in the Public Defender’s Office that's wonderful," said Public Defender Mano Raju. "But, if they want to bring some of that Public Defender mentality to other aspects of their career, their future, that's a beautiful thing too."

The city's police chief agreeing, saying even if the young people don't pursue a career following the path of their internship they gain critical skills for whatever career they choose. "Whether they want to be a police officer, a lawyer, a doctor a physicist or whatever the case might be, I think the skills they learn in this program will help them get there," said Chief Bill Scott.

Sheryl Davis from the city's Human Rights Commission administers the program. "So often we hear people say 'you don't have enough experience,'" said Davis. "But, if I never get a job you do I gain the experience? So, Opportunities for all is saying we want to be sure everybody has the opportunity to gain some experience, to build their networks."

The internships are not just with city jobs, the young people can in the public or private sectors, for companies including some big names out there like Facebook and Google and the host of today's kick-off event, Chase Center.

The program is full now, and there's already a wait-list of applicants for this year. Program administrators are encouraging young people to apply in case more positions open, and to get a jump on next year.