Summer Interns Featured in Western City Magazine

The City of West Sacramento’s internship program is described as an “on-ramp to public sector careers” in the August publication of Western City Magazine.

2017 Summer STEPS Interns after touring City Hall.

The City of West Sacramento launched the Summer STEPS (Strides Toward Entering Public Service) program in 2015 as part of its efforts to diversify the city’s workforce and create a path to public service careers.

The interns get an inside look at Fire Station 45.

Championed by West Sacramento City Manager Martin Tuttle and the city’s Human Resources division of its Administrative Services Department, the STEPS program offers local youths a work-based learning experience to ensure they are eligible and competitive for an entry-level position within the public sector, ideally with the city.

“The STEPS program is one way in which the city is creating pathways to public service and career opportunities while diversifying our local workforce,” says West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon.

Interns tour the George Kristoff Water Treatment Plant.

Summer STEPS is open to high school juniors and seniors and undergraduate and graduate students. The eight-week program includes a 40-hour per week paid internship in one of eight city departments. To illustrate the breadth of local government careers and key functions, the program includes weekly “lunch and learn” sessions with a range of guest speakers and field trips to city facilities. Funding for the program comes primarily from the city’s General Fund and costs approximately $70,000 per year.

A significant distinction of the Summer STEPS program is its use of digital badges. To further enhance the work-based learning experience, the city partnered with FutureReady, a project of the West Sacramento Community Foundation, to develop and implement a digital badge component for the program. Students earn digital badges for completing a specific list of tasks or goals during their time in the program. These digital badges serve as virtual credentials, enabling youths to illustrate a skill or experience that they gained during the program. Participants who earn badges also earn hiring preference for Next STEPS, which is a paid fall or spring internship for Summer STEPS graduates.

Listening to future plans for the land surrounding the Public Works Corporation Yard

In its first two years, the Summer STEPS program graduated 43 young people. Four college interns have since become full-time employees with the city, and other graduates have become part-time city employees or have been hired by another city or a private consulting firm. One STEPS intern from West Sacramento even ran for a school board seat in the city’s Washington Unified School District.

“Going into this internship I didn’t know that I was actually going to file for school board, but I got to see more about how the city works and I was inspired about what I can do to help my community,” says Danny Thiraul, 19, Economic and Housing Department 2016 Summer STEPS graduate.

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