Building the Future, Infrastructure and Beyond…

The SFPUC is building the future through more than just infrastructure. 

This June, the SSIP CityWorks Internship Program will launch its eighth year of programming that prepares our future leaders for careers in engineering, urban design, public service, and environmental management. The paid internship program is made possible through a unique partnership between the SFPUC Community Benefits team, Young Community Developers (YCD), and a number of public, private, and community stakeholders.

“As a former City and County of San Francisco intern, I know firsthand the power that internships can have on exposing, inspiring and preparing young people for job opportunities,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “At a time when utilities nationwide have aging workforces and growing infrastructure needs, SSIP CityWorks is connecting the next generation of workers to jobs in this industry and ensuring they have pathways into careers that design, build and maintain the critical systems for our communities.”  

Since its inception in 2012, SSIP CityWorks has aimed to have a positive impact on the Bayview-Hunters Point (BVHP) community, where the Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP) is investing over $2 billion to upgrade and modernize San Francisco’s largest wastewater treatment plant. The internship program has since worked to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities within the fields of architecture and urban design, engineering, finance and accounting, communications and government relations, and operations and environmental management. Over the last seven years, SSIP CityWorks has provided over 75 youth with an opportunity to explore a world of opportunity. 

Future leaders participating in the SSIP CityWorks program.

“SSIP CityWorks is really important to us,” said Lindsey Lopez, SSIP CityWorks coordinator at YCD. “A lot of times our kids don’t hear about the opportunity, don’t have the support or resources they need, or simply don’t understand what kind of career pathways are available, so having a higher-level internship opportunity means a lot to our kids.”

YCD is a 501c (3) community-based organization that has been in the BVHP community for over 45 years. It has become one of the main local organizations responsible for decreasing the high unemployment rate within the BVHP community by providing quality trainings and employment placement opportunities for residents. 

According to Lopez, 15 students have been accepted into the SSIP CityWorks program including seven interns who will return to the program this year. The program is open to rising high school seniors, and college freshmen and sophomores. Students in good standing with the program are eligible to return the following year up to their sophomore year in college.

This year, SFPUC staff will mentor a number of interns who have a diverse range of interests in everything from environmental engineering to public service. Several engineering and construction firms including AGS Inc., Black & Veatch, Carollo Engineers, CPM Partners, HDR Inc., Parsons, and Swinerton will also provide interns with weeks of hands-on learning. But before interns are dispatched to work at their respective sites, YCD will provide hands-on readiness training for the first two weeks of the program. 

“The firms that host them are mainly engineering firms, so if the student is interested in architecture or engineering they are matched up with someone in that firm working in that career field,” said Lopez.

The program also includes an overnight trip to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir inside Yosemite National Park, and facility tours of the SFPUC Headquarters, Southeastern Treatment Plant, and other local water, power, and sewer facilities. At the conclusion of the summer internship, there is an end-of-the-program celebration that brings together SSIP CityWorks interns, SFPUC staff, YCD staff, and Community Benefits Partners. 

“A lot of our kids are definitely the first in their family to go to college and are generally from low-income populations but also, on the other end, these are highly motivated students who are applying for this internship,” said Lopez. “A lot of those students know what they want to do and are motivated for their future.”

To learn more about the SSIP CityWorks Internship Program, click here