Reflecting & Rejoicing Celebrating 60 Years of Impact »

Do you remember your first summer job? The excitement of learning new things and the feeling of happiness when you received your first paycheck. The Oakland Youth Engaged (OYE) program is helping 21 Oakland youth create similar memories through their career exploration placements.

This summer Oakland Youth Engaged (OYE) youth participated in a series of workshops on career awareness, job readiness, college exploration, and financial literacy. Every workshop was tailored and designed to prepare each program participant for their career exploration placements. The workshops are meant to give youth the job and people skills they will need for the summer and the rest of their work lives. Once participants are ready for the real deal, they are placed in local businesses and organizations for the remainder of the summer. For the past two months, OYE youth were placed at organizations’ like Street Level Health Clinic, Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, BAY-Peace, The Unity Council, and many small local businesses.

For many of the youth, this is the first time they are exposed to a professional work environment. The career exploration placements allow young people to gain the skills and experience needed to land the job or career of their dreams. Micaela Lara, the Pathways Manager, explained that there are many barriers that OYE youth face to gain employment, the biggest barrier being the lack of work references. Micaela explained that through the OYE program young people are able to build their resume, develop skills, and most importantly gain a letter of recommendation through their career exploration placements.

Kevin Zavala, a 16-year-old Latino, has participated in the OYE program for the past two years. Last summer he participated as an Activity Leader & Coach at ACE Summer Camp for kids ages 5 to 12. This summer Kevin worked at a local Piñata business; thanks to OYE, Kevin he feels more confident about his work experience and customer service skills. Kevin said that the most valuable thing he learned from his career exploration placements is to work with others. Like Kevin, other OYE youth will gain work experience and develop skills that will help them move to the next level in their professional and vocational lives.

If you would like to host an OYE intern at your office or business, email Ashley Nelson at or call 510-535-7179