Neighborhood House
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Neighborhood House programs

The invaluable rewards of internships

For the past decade, Lisa Serratos-McGregor has been helping train interns at her real estate company, Team Synergy of Keller Williams Puget Sound. Neighborhood House’s employment readiness and job internship programs are especially personal to Lisa, who says she never had any true mentors growing up.

The Northwest native was raised by a single mother and lived in public housing in West Seattle’s Highland Park neighborhood when she was young, and believes her own upbringing spurred her compassionate involvement in ensuring young people have positive role models and activities to keep them out of trouble.

Today, she’s become one of our most prolific and dedicated mentors, having shepherded more than 20 young people through her company and out into the workforce over the past decade.

“I just love the partnership with Neighborhood House because our program is giving these kids a pathway to accomplish things,” she says. “We work with them, see them grow, and they develop self-confidence because someone gave them a chance to do projects and see them through from beginning to completion.”

The paid internships typically run 120 hours of hands-on training for 16 – 23-year-olds, who help answer phones, do computer work, assist with social media tasks, and learn what it’s like to be part of a team.

Lisa says, “We help them see that what they put into things will determine what they get out of them. Working as a team, interns see that we count on each other to accomplish our goals, and we try to teach them to become reliable employees for when they get out there on their own.”

And it’s not unusual for Lisa and her staff to hire former interns for full-time positions. She’s kept in touch with many of them over the years via Facebook, and says it’s really heartwarming to see them grow and become successes in their own right.

In many cases, says Lisa, the interns are lacking in self-confidence and basic skills that will allow them an ‘in’ with future employers, like Elizabeth Caldwell. Now at 23, Elizabeth, who interned in Lisa’s office two years ago, said her time spent working in an office environment helped teach her to be responsible and believe in herself.

“It has given me the self-confidence to be more outgoing and I found lots of support there,” Elizabeth says. “Without Neighborhood House I didn’t even have a high school diploma, but now I have my GED and doing the internship helped motivate me to make goals for myself.”

She now has her sights set on applying to community college to study photography, which she said she never would have tried if it hadn’t been for people like Lisa and her Neighborhood House case manager, Jody Azevedo, who helped her with job readiness training.

“The internship and passing her GED and making friends really brought her out of her shell,” Jody says. “Elizabeth gained confidence through the SEEC Program (Success in Education, Employment and Careers) to go out and get the jobs she needs to in order to survive. She is very driven and I’m sure that whatever she chooses to do, she will work hard to reach her goals.”