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DYCD SYEP College Intern Shares Her Experience Working With DDC STEAM

Karen Wu

Program Coordinator Intern Karen Wu

Over the summer, the New York City Department of Design and Construction hosted students from the Department of Youth and Community Development’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). In response to the Mayor’s call for agencies to hire NYC youth, city agencies opened their doors to accommodate high school and college interns both in-person and virtually. In addition to earning wages, participants also had an opportunity to explore career interests, develop workplace skills, engage with professionals, and help hone their social and leadership skills.

DDC STEAM is proud of its many year partnership with the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), the nation’s largest youth employment program for NYC youth between the ages of 14 and 24. Over the summer, STEAM High School Summer Internship alum Karen Wu had the opportunity to explore her interests, and engage in learning experiences that will help her to further develop her social, civic and leadership skills. Interning with DDC STEAM, Karen experienced a structured project and work-based opportunity that will prepare her for what we know will be a very bright future,” stated Deputy Commissioner Lee Llambelis.

Ms. Wu worked as a Program Coordinator intern. She completed her freshman year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she is a dual major in Civil Engineering and Economics. Over the years, Karen has participated in several DDC STEAM pipeline programs. She participated in the 2018 and 2019 DDC High School Summer Internship Program and was a part of the DDC Team 8 ACE Mentor Program for the 2019 - 2020 season. Karen also participated in the 2020 Lunch and Learn Program. During the height of the pandemic, DDC STEAM launched a virtual summer Lunch and Learn Program to make it possible for students to gain insight into DDC careers and careers in the built environment. During the four-week program, DDC professionals gave presentations about projects, their unit, role, career path and education. Students learned about DDC’s COVID-19 programs and about the field hospitals, testing centers and laboratories DDC helped to build to address NYC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students also had presentations on civil engineering and DDC’s work in capital infrastructure construction and they learned how the work of the infrastructure division is critically important to the construction and upkeep of NYC’s 6,500 miles of water mains citywide. They also learned about the importance of the civic structures DDC builds like libraries, police precincts, museums and other cultural institutions.

“Having the opportunity to participate in multiple programs at DDC has made me grow as a professional, as a student, and as an individual. The impact and insight of DDC staff, mentors, and the STEAM Team has helped to reinforce my desire to pursue a career in engineering. Students who have access to the DDC STEAM pipeline through its many programs gain a broader base of knowledge of STEAM career fields. I am extremely grateful to the STEAM team. I now realize how diligent and dedicated they are to ensure students are introduced to the many fields in architecture, engineering, and construction management. As STEAM branches out further in the education system, more NYC students will be drawn to making this city better,” stated Karen Wu.

DDC’s pipeline program starts in middle school with the Young Engineers Program and extends to College and Graduate School via the College Internship and the College Aide programs.

The SYEP College Internship Program ran from July 6th to August 13th, 2021. Karen was one of ten students selected to intern at DDC in-person. Over the summer, Karen learned how Program Coordinators develop, manage, and execute programs and events. She learned that it takes trial and error to execute a strategic plan that ensures a program runs smoothly. Among her many assignments, Karen was tasked with creating a one-day STEAM event. During the process of creating that event, Karen realized the amount of work that goes into developing events and programs for middle school and high school students that are comprehensible on each level, as well as both innovative, and engaging.

Karen was able to further hone her professional skills. She learned how to write professional emails and became a better public speaking as a result of being tasked to introduce STEAM and DDC virtually to middle school students participating in the summer Young Engineers Program. The reversal of roles between speaker and student made Karen realize how important it is to fully captivate an audience, especially when working virtually. As interns get a peek behind the curtain of diverse careers, they gain valuable insight, and develop a work ethic that will carry them through their future academic and professional pursuits.


About the NYC Department of Design and Construction

The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15.5 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit