Raised with a strong family tradition of community activism, Ayanni Peters knew she wanted to pursue a career that positively impacted her community. Born and raised in the Bay Area and a rising junior at San Francisco State University, Peters entered college with plans to pursue nursing. However, Peters discovered a different career passion after two summers interning at a Bay Area construction services firm through the CityWorks Internship Program. Peters’ experience motivated her to switch to a major in construction management with the goal of working on projects that improve the lived experience of her community.
“It is important to me to work on projects here in the Bay Area where I was born and raised because I want to see my community be invested in and grow. I look up to my family members who showed me how to be involved in our community, and now I can be involved through my own work and community activism. I want my nieces and nephews to grow up in a place that is better, and it is exciting to be part of making that happen.”
For two summers, Peters was awarded a paid CityWorks internship at Swinerton, a construction services firm. As an intern, Peters shadowed project engineers, learned to read construction drawings, and toured various construction sites throughout San Francisco. One site she toured was the La Fénix at 1950, a mixed income housing development in the Mission District. During her internships, she also met with professionals across the firm, exposing her to the different job types within the construction field and solidifying her interest in pursuing a construction management career.
Peters’ experience was made possible through the SFPUC’s Social Impact Partnership Program. Through the Social Impact Partnership Program, private engineering firms working on SFPUC infrastructure projects make commitments to the community. CityWorks is an example of one of those commitments, with firms hosting and compensating interns. CityWorks was launched in 2012 and is operated through a partnership between the SFPUC and the local community based organization Young Community Developers. The program provides youth from the Bay Area, including San Francisco’s Southeast community, with paid internships at private firms working on local construction and engineering projects.
For Peters, CityWorks’ career professionalism workshops were equally valuable to her career growth as her time spent at construction sites. At the end of each work week, Peters and her cohort of CityWorks interns came back together from their respective work sites to receive various training sessions hosted by Young Community Developers. Partnered with fellow CityWorks interns, Peters perfected her resume and LinkedIn profile, practiced networking, and received training on other life skills like money management and workplace culture.
“CityWorks taught me how to build professional relationships and connect with people. Then I got to practice these skills out in the field at Swinerton and at different networking events. Without those skills and the relationships I built, I would not have my current position at Swinerton.”
Peters began her third summer working at Swinerton this June, this time securing a position through the company’s independent internship program. Her workload is centered on a residential housing development in downtown San Francisco’s Civic Center. She works on small submittals, Requests for Information, construction photos and documentation, and project management. Peters will graduate from San Francisco State University in 2023 with a degree in construction management.
Reflecting on her experience with CityWorks, Peters shared advice for students interested in pursuing the program. “Join CityWorks and do an internship because it can really open your mind to other fields and opportunities. It will help you build relationships that can help you in your future career. Be open to trying new things and learning.”