The Gorge Works Internships is putting the call out to high school and college students—and anyone looking to enter the workforce or change careers for that matter—to apply for its program.
On offer are 19 paid summer internships at 12 Gorge businesses. Most are in The Dalles, but others are in Hood River and White Salmon, said program coordinator Kathy Ursprung of the Port of The Dalles.
The application is online at gorgeworks.com and the deadline to apply is Feb. 15. Those interested can use a single form to apply for as many internships as they are interested in. The opportunities include accounting, mechanics, millwright, safety engineer, human resources, water treatment and quality control among others.
The application process doesn’t list the employers by name. “We have some big employers and we have some fairly unknown employers. We want to give everybody a chance,” Ursprung said.
Last year the program hired six interns, and four completed the program, which this year will run from June 10 to Aug. 9. Of those four, Ursprung said, two are planning to come back, a third got a job with her intern post and the fourth got some experience that allowed him to qualify for a job in the wind industry.
The internship program itself even has an opening for an internship coordinator, Ursprung said.
Ursprung is offering two workshops to help those interested work on their resume and cover letter. They are Thursday, Feb. 7, 2–6 p.m., and Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2–6 p.m. Both sessions are in the boardroom of the port, at its offices at 3636 Klindt Dr.
The program was launched last year, with two main goals.
Ursprung said the port is doing the program because employers on the port industrial area say they are having trouble finding people for jobs. “It’s not just people with the hard skills they need, it’s also just people who are willing to work.
“At the same time, I’m hearing from high school students that they have a hard time making connections with employers. So an internship program is a way to put the two together; give the employers a chance to see what the potential employee can do and give the intern a chance to try out a job they might not have considered before.”
So far this year, Ursprung said, “the best source of interns for us so far, granted it is a very small sample, has been moms. They know a good opportunity when they see one.”
Most of the internships require applicants to be 18. One requires that they be 16 or older. Wages range from at least minimum wage to a few that pay $15 to $16 an hour.
Several aspects of the internship program set it apart, Ursprung said. “One is that you don’t have to be connected with a college program. You can be just getting out of high school. You can be someone looking for a mid-life career change. You can be a college student in a relevant major. Some of our internships will provide on-the-job training. Some of them, maybe you have the start of the training from your high school classes. For example, we have some internships related to mechanics.”
Also setting this program apart is the weekly session for the interns, where they get professional development training.
“One of the things that people are saying, not just here but nationwide, is that people come in not prepared to be good employees. They don’t know what a good employee is. They don’t understand the expectations of the employer.”
Last year’s workshops included topics like project management, public speaking, workplace expectations, ethics, personal finance, community service and civics.
Andy Alvarez was an intern last year, the first year the program started, and had high praise for it. In a video on the gorgeworks.com site, he said his internship helped him grow as an individual and to figure out what he wanted to pursue as a career.
“All the connections you get really help you out,” he said.
He added, “This is my first office job. I saw behind the scenes of a large company and seeing how things run, where I used to work at a grocery store working as a courtesy clerk helping other people. Where now I’m in the back dealing with numbers and computer systems.”
The port is partnering with The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce on the program, and is getting help from other employment services as well. “They really are going out of their way to get the word out,” Ursprung said.