Career Explorers Get a Taste of County Employment

Innovative internship program partners young people with public service jobs

For Immediate Release 
August 15, 2017

San Rafael, CA – Kjersten Cox wasn’t sure what to expect from signing up for the County of Marin Career Explorer Youth Program, but at the program’s season-ending celebration she shared just how big of an impact it had on her career direction.

“What I have learned is that I can do anything I set my mind to and so can anyone else,” Cox said. “If you strive for something hard enough you can achieve it.”

Cox was one of 11 interns between ages 16 and 20 who participated in the second year of the Career Explorers. The interns completed successful internships and were exposed to new ways of approaching their future career direction. 

During her internship, Cox was exposed public health preparedness tasks such as participating in point-of-dispensing training wherein medications, vaccines or medical supplies are supplied to a large community during a health emergency. 

The Career Explorer program is a partnership between the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Employment and Training Branch and the departments of Probation, Parks, Human Resources, and the County’s Administrator’s Office. The program’s main goal is to provide a chance to young people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to engage in career exploration, a chance to gain work readiness skills through a combination of intensive workshops, a six-week paid internship at a County department and networking with professionals in various fields with local government.

Career Explorers also aligns with the goals of both the County’s 5-Year Business Plan[PDF] and HHS’ All in Marin Internal Strategic Plan to create an inclusive organization with diversity at all levels of the organization, develop a world-class internship program, and increase employment opportunities for people with lived experiences. Exposure to County government and potential career paths is especially important given that the government is one of the highest growing job sectors in Marin County.

In June, an application, recruitment and screening process took place, and 25 young people were eligible to participate in a two-week training program. In those trainings, the students attended workshops with topics including learning to dress professionally, networking, and creating a vision for one’s future career path. The students participated in a formal interview and selection process after the training and were placed in various County departments. 

“The program is beneficial to the intern as well as the supervisors,” said Megan Scott, Senior Program Coordinator with Public Health Preparedness who supervised Cox over the summer. “These students bring an outside perspective that can help staff see a problem through the eyes of the public or our clients. They can help pull us out of our program-specific mindset.”

Throughout the summer, the interns participated in discussions with guest speakers from organizations including Google, Code for America and the office of state Assembly member Marc Levine. The speakers provided the interns insight on their own career journeys and what their day-to-day routines entail. 

During the final week, the participants were invited back for more training to increase their skills in the areas of interviewing, resume creation and public speaking.  

“This year the program focused on providing an authentic experience of exploring careers in government, which cover a broad range of fields, including Health and Human Services, Human Resources, Parks and Fire,” said Paula Glodowski-Valla, HHS Division Director. “The program taught job-related skills that were then applied through a formal interview experience and placement within teams across County government. It is our hope that this program inspired an interest in government service and provided a roadmap on how to achieve this goal.”   

The Probation Department used funds from a state grant to cover the costs of intern stipends, work uniforms, food, transportation and supervision. 

To learn more about the program, contact Glodowski-Valla at pglodowski@marincounty.org.