January’s Seattle Youth of the Month is Lucero Torres! Lucero graduated from Seattle Central’s Visual Media Program this past summer and is currently participating in the Cultural & Creative Workforce Development Internship pilot program.
The Cultural & Creative Workforce Development Internship is a collaboration between Northwest Folklife, OED and Seattle Office of Arts and Culture (ARTS). This internship program provides young adults age16 – 25, opportunities to sharpen skills and competencies in culturally and creatively focused occupations. Interns are assigned to a creative or cultural agency like Vera Project, Northwest Film Forum, Próxima Generación, and more. The program strives to develop hands-on experiences, foster networks, and provide participants with an introduction to the creative industry.
“Prior to COVID-19, we created this program to give paid creative internship opportunities to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) youth. The Creative Economy Report that our office commissioned highlighted that women and people of color are underrepresented in many creative occupations. We wanted to change that by developing a program that deepen young peoples’ connection to their communities and peers, builds their social capital, and provides them with the necessary skills for the emerging economy,” said Sasha Gourevitch, OED Youth Employment Development Advisor.
“During the pandemic, we see that youth of color continue to be the most impacted by the pandemic due to three main challenges: a public health crisis, racism, and economic recession. Many entry level jobs and internship positions were eliminated by the economic impacts of COVID-19, creating fewer opportunities for Seattle‘s youth. OED is investing in programs, like the Cultural & Creative Workforce Development Internship, to support Seattle youth and the creative industry.”
As part of the program, Lucero is interning with Milli – a creative agency that specializes in strategy, social media, and content creation. Before starting the internship, Lucero had no previous experience working in a creative agency, but had a few freelance gigs as a video editor, assisting camera for short films and a feature, as well as photography shoots for a clothing line. Lucero also had some other previous work experience in retail, food services, and caring for plants in a nursery.
“Some of the people who work for Milli, they went through the same program (Seattle Central’s Visual Media Program) I went through – so I was familiar with their work and Instagram. Milli posted the internship on their Instagram and that’s how I heard about the program,” said Lucero. “I like the content that Milli produces and I felt that the internship gave me opportunities to grow as a creative professional.”
Being part of a creative agency is a new experience that Lucero initially found intimidating. However, the Milli team made her feel comfortable and encouraged her to contribute her ideas to the creative process. As part of her internship with Milli, Lucero supports content creation from planning to the development of projects. She’s included in client and project planning meetings, where the team asks for her input and feedback. During photo shoots, she assists with equipment and lighting. Lucero enjoys getting an opportunity to contribute creatively and continue developing her photo and video skills.
“I am super happy that I found this opportunity with Milli. They are really great at incorporating me, giving me the opportunity to come up with concepts and give feedback. Looking at the way the team works and communicates with their clients, has been a teachable moment – I hope that in the future I can be more in charge. Something I will take away from this experience is working with a team of creative professionals and being responsive with clients.”
During the internship, Lucero was able to build relationships and connect with other creatives – a key goal of the program in supporting youth build their networks and career. While working at Milli, Lucero re-connected with other creatives she knew from school, and established relationships with new creatives in different fields such as stylists and production assistants. In the future, Lucero hopes to continue working as a photographer and collaborate with other creatives.
OED, ARTS, and Northwest Folklife will continue to invest in the Cultural & Creative Workforce Development Internship program. Currently, the program is seeking additional employer to provide internships for young creatives. Internships range 12-24 weeks, and interns work 12-14 hours a week at their internship sites, and 1-2 hours with Northwest Folklife. Hosting is no cost to the employers. Interested employers can contact. Northwest Folklife’s Cultural and Creative Workforce Development Program Manager, Khalia Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Young people ages 16-25 who are interested in careers in the creative industry can check out opportunities and internships here.