On a busy Saturday morning in Seattle, Kenneth, a Juma Youth, stands behind the counter at a bakery cart full of specialty pet treats. A line of customers wait eagerly for their turn to check out the pastry case—tails wagging. Kenneth is an intern with The Seattle Barkery. Through a partnership between Juma Seattle and Seattle Good Business Network, he’s exploring a career in entrepreneurship by working at a small, family-run business dedicated to providing man’s best friend with delicious and locally-produced treats. And he’s not the only one—many Juma youth have been connected with small businesses all over Seattle ranging from DIY shops to makers of small-batch beauty products, where they continue to earn an income and learn about the various businesses.
Seattle Good Business Network is a coalition of residents, local businesses, non-profits, and municipal organizations working with a goal to inspire people to buy, produce, and invest locally. Many of the small businesses they support were eager to take on interns who could help out while also learning and practicing new skills. A full 70% of Seattle Good Business Network businesses are run by women and BIPOC. Seattle Good Business Network also funnels resources toward businesses which are enriching under-resourced communities.
Lainie Farmer, Juma Seattle Site Manager, explains that entrepreneurship is a very popular goal among Juma youth and therefore internships with small businesses are uniquely excellent learning opportunities. “Our youth have been able to learn about a lot of different careers; they’re gaining an understanding of what it takes to successfully operate a business,” she says. “This partnership opened doors to new experiences and ways to learn about the challenges of getting small businesses off the ground.”
While Seattle Good Business Network had long operated youth programs, presenting opportunities for youth like tours of small businesses, Juma’s case management and trusting relationships with youth made a more expansive youth program possible. “Our youth program was longstanging but we didn’t have interns,” explains Nico Onoda-McGuire, a Program Manager with Seattle Good Business Network. “We tap into case management support and personal and professional development through Juma and that entire foundation of support adds to the overall success of the internship.”
“This partnership has opened doors to career exploration—youth are able to try out different positions that are not customer service based. They learn what it’s like to work with different managers and get an idea of different personalities and types of leadership. A lot of internship partners have a hard time offering feedback to the youth but we’re coaching them on coaching youth as well, so it comes full circle,” says Lainie.
At the end of his time at The Seattle Barkery, Kenneth is proud of what he’s accomplished but also ready to try another internship. Thanks to support from Juma and Seattle Good Business Network, The Barkery is looking forward to taking on more interns in the future as well. As the partnership continues to grow and expand, one thing is certain: we really are stronger together.