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City's internship program in its first year

In a tough job market, young people entering the work force need every break they can get — especially since the unemployment rate for workers in the 16 to 25 age group is significantly higher than the national unemployment average.by: COURTESY PHOTO - Intern Jacob Pavlik looks over land use documents with Debbie Raber, project manager for the Hillsboro Planning Department.

Recognizing that reality, the city of Hillsboro stepped up this summer with a new program geared to provide 18 local youths with an opportunity to gain critical work experience.

The internships are for high schoolers or those in the first year or two of college. The initial group of 18 interns are all members of the city’s Youth Advisory Council, and all are students within the Hillsboro School District or part of Portland Community College’s Future Connect program, which provides scholarships to first-generation and low income students. The interns started working in mid-June, and will continue on the job for a total of 10 weeks.

Kristi Wilson, management analyst for the city’s Human Resources Department, is coordinating the city’s fledgling internship program, and she is enthusiastic about its benefits.

“Our goal is to expand as we grow,” Wilson said. “Getting to work with them directly, I have heard them tell me this is one of the best experiences they’ve ever had. They are grateful and eager to work, and it’s a really great thing for the city to be able to offer this program.”

Wilson added that the students are able to select areas of most interest to them. Assignments that were available included working in the Information Services Department, helping with composting at the community gardens, working at the city’s summer camps, helping organize an auction for the Senior Center and assisting in the city’s Planning Department.

“It’s a really diverse array of jobs to give exposure to public service,” she said. “There are a lot of different jobs.”

Wilson’s enthusiasm is mirrored by the interns, who appear to be relishing the chance to have an important job for the summer.

Jordan Stoll, who is heading into his senior year at Century High School, said the opportunity has given him a new sense of direction.

“I’ve learned so much in just a few weeks,” Stoll said. “It’s great. I feel I’m accomplishing something by taking part in the city, and it’s a great learning experience.”

Stoll, who works three days a week helping to develop ways for the city to effectively use a 3-D printer, said this is his first summer job.

“I had no clue what I was going to do after high school, but now that I’ve started this job, I want to pursue a career in computer sciences,” he said. “This is giving me a good direction.”

Jacob Pavlik, an intern serving in the Planning Department, said he appreciates that he is being given important assignments.

"I'm doing data management for traffic impact studies, and have made a few maps," Pavlik said. "The people in the Planning Department are great, and it's a lot of fun working with them. I did not expect that when I started."

Pavlik, who graduated from Glencoe High School last year and is now enrolled at George Washington University, said he wants to go into city planning as a career. He said he is gratified at the opportunity to learn and the support he is getting from Planning Department employees.

"The staff here has been a great resource for me," he said, "and I'm actually doing projects, so I love it."

The interns are paid $10 an hour if they are high school students, or $12 an hour if in college. They each work about 20 hours a week for the city.

The idea of creating an internship program for young people has been strongly supported by Hillsboro City Manager Michael Brown.

“This internship program will give our young people an earlier opportunity to explore career choices, learn hands-on skills and help their hometown,” Brown explained. “It also will fill a city need for bright young interns who creatively solve challenges and make Hillsboro an even better place to live.”

“The city manager was very interested in working with the school district, with the idea of having all the different jobs under the public service umbrella,” Wilson said.by: COURTESY PHOTO - Jordan Stoll, who is heading into his senior year at Century High School, is working to develop more effective ways for the city to use its 3-D printer in his internship with the citys Information Services Department.

According to Wilson, there are currently 30 Youth Advisory Council members, and almost all of them wanted the chance to serve as an intern for the city. But with just 18 jobs available, there were not enough openings to go around.

“I had to draw names out of a hat to decide,” she said. “I wanted to keep it random. Not everyone did get a job.”

Wilson serves as a mentor to the interns, and enjoys giving them guidance as many of them take on the responsibility of a job for the first time.

“I coordinate and develop the program and help prepare the interns — what to wear, how to be on time, real basic job skills; soft and hard skills,” she said.

Wilson said she especially enjoys helping the interns because she also started working at a young age.

“I’ve worked for the city of Hillsboro for 15 years," she explained. “I started when I was 19, so it’s fun to see other people starting at that age.”

Stoll agrees.

“I really hope they continue this program,” he said. “It’s such an amazing experience; I wish every student could try something like this.”

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