2020 marks the firsts of many Project Pull interns. Sha’Nice Patterson is a fifth year veteran participating in Project Pull and is serving as liaison between mentors and interns. This is Suki Luo’s first year with the program as a Team Leader. But this summer brings a “first” for them both and others in Project Pull: participating in an internship program that’s entirely online.
Luo shared that the past several months was full of challenges when San Francisco announced its shelter in place orders, along with other cities moving in similar directions. From rapidly shifting from in-person classes to distance learning online, breaking a leasing contract and moving back home, to suddenly not hanging out with friends and family members that weren’t in the same household. “Some of my family members who work in the medical field had gotten the virus, which was very scary because they are constantly exposed to it and would have to continue going back to work after they heal from the virus,” she said.
Patterson also experienced challenges due to the pandemic, but has been grateful that it has not taken away her ability to go outside for essential errands and continue to work. “COVID-19 has actually brought me closer to my family and friends,” Patterson shared. “This pandemic has taught me that everyday is not promised to look the same. It has shown me a new way of living and has made me want to be even kinder to the people around me. I pray for all of us at this time, because our futures are uncertain.”
Patterson felt more prepared for this summer due to previous summers participating in Project Pull. She has seen the program grow over the years and participated in the program as an intern and team leader. “What hasn’t changed this summer is that Project Pull continues to to provide summer employment opportunities for youth in San Francisco. Due to COVID-19, many summer programs were canceled leaving thousands of youth without a summer job,” she said.
“Interns are unable to go to worksites to gain that authentic experience of the working environment,” said Luo. “But this summer, our program is focusing more on learning about different career fields and inviting past program participants to join us in creating projects for our interns to complete. Although we are not meeting in-person, we are still very interested in getting to know each other and sharing what we’ve learned. Interns and team leaders really try to stay focused during our meetings and try to remove any distractions.”
Project Pull may look very different this year, but Patterson and Luo both agree that this year’s first virtual internship experience is turning out to be pretty great. However, it isn’t about the ‘firsts’, they said. It’s about the program’s constants – giving students an opportunity to learn, grow, and connect.