When you think of teen summer internships, you probably picture a bunch of unpaid kids stuck making copies or answering phones in antiseptic offices.
But the Port of Seattle, Boys & Girls Clubs, Goodwill and King County have something else in mind for regional high school students. Namely a paycheck and real-world job experience in industries that can lead to future employment.
“These are really good local jobs that a lot of young people just don’t know about,” says Amberine Wilson, HR outreach program manager at the Port of Seattle.
Take the maritime industry, Washington’s third-largest economic driver. The average age of a mariner in the state is 52 years old, meaning there’s a deep need for industry newcomers, says Sarah Scherer, director of the Seattle Maritime Academy.
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“You don’t have to have a bachelor’s degree to get a good job,” Scherer says. In fact, she adds, Washingtonians coming out of a one-year marine program can start making $45,000 to $75,000 right away.
Jennifer Hill, King County’s youth programs coordinator, agrees.
“There are a lot companies that can’t find the skilled labor that they need,” Hill explains. “Employers are more interested in paying for training and hiring people with less experience than in the past.”
Here are some summer internship programs designed to expose teens – especially those with the greatest need – to promising career paths they might not have considered or thought possible.
Port of Seattle. The port is hiring 82 full-time high school interns to work in various disciplines this year, including construction management, engineering, environmental, finance, human resources, marketing and planning. For the second year in a row, the port is also working with private companies in maritime, aviation and manufacturing industries to place 30 more high school interns.
Each intern will receive hands-on training and be tasked with a project to complete, such as building a mobile app for use at the airport or doing an inventory of a harbor’s commercial and recreational boats.
“The idea is that they come out of it with some transferable skills,” Wilson says.
Internships begin July 5 and last 6 to 8 weeks. Internships at the Port pay $15 an hour and include a free ORCA card. The deadline for high schoolers age 16 and older to apply is April 23. Applications and information can be found here.
YouthForce. This Boys & Girls Clubs program offers a number of part-time and full-time teen summer internships with regional companies, including Alaska Airlines. The idea is to connect students with on-the-job tasks that interest them most, from social media and community outreach to event planning and software development. Internships start July 5 and pay $12 to $15 an hour. Application deadlines range from April 26 to May 8, depending on the internship. Applications and details here.
Goodwill. Adults aren’t the only ones who receive job assistance here. In recent years, Goodwill has ramped up efforts to help disadvantaged teens with internships, career counseling and résumé and interview help, says J.C. Maxie from Goodwill’s Seattle job training and education centers. Like the Port, Goodwill wants kids to know that jobs in manufacturing, warehouse logistics, aerospace and maritime are viable career paths that don’t require a four-year degree, Maxie adds. To get in touch with Seattle Goodwill about teen internship and job opportunities, visit the organization’s job training and education page.
King County. Low-income, at-risk high school students in Federal Way, Highline, Kent and Renton have a champion in the King County government, too. The county places roughly a couple hundred students from these school districts into summer internships a year, says Hill, the youth programs coordinator. Students must meet specific income criteria to qualify. To learn more, visit the county’s employment and education page.
High school students aren’t the only young people the county helps set on an employment path. Youth from all backgrounds and circumstances ages 16 to 24 who aren’t in school and aren’t working can get help returning to school, taking their GED and finding a job through the county’s Reconnect to Opportunity program.
Recognized as a national leader on sustainability and economic development, the Port of Seattle owns and operates Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, cruise, cargo and grain terminals, Fishermen’s Terminal, four public marinas and local real estate assets.