We’re entering internship season, which is both an important time of life for students entering the workforce, and a key opportunity for employers. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to help make finding these experiences easier and more successful, whether you’re a student looking for an internship or an employer looking for a sharp new summer hire.
Internships are a great way for employers to connect with new talent and give them exposure to the workplace. And for students, an internship is an ideal way to build the job-related soft skills and form professional relationships that are often the bedrock of a successful career.
With summer around the corner, students are starting to plan where they are going to stay and where they are going to work. Whether your workplace has a formal internship program or you’re just looking for summer help, now is a great time to start advertising any open work-based learning opportunities so students can learn about your company – and you can connect with the next generation of talent.
The Washington Workforce Portal launched in Washington two years ago with only a handful of students and employers. There are now more than 200 employers signed up with the portal and about 800 students have created accounts. About 800 work-based learning opportunities have been posted.
The Washington Workforce Portal (washingtonworkforceportal.org) is an online resource where employers and educators may post an unlimited number of internship opportunities and have free access to a student candidate database.
A project of the AWB Institute, the Washington Workforce Portal connects young people across the state to real-world work-based learning opportunities. Originally launched in Spokane and Tri-Cities, it is now statewide. Students can now find opportunities across the state and businesses have access to a much larger potential talent pool.
Posted opportunities now include remote work, apprenticeships, job shadowing and teacher externships. Teacher externships open business doors for educators, giving them real-world experience to bring back to the classroom.
Creating a profile only takes a few minutes. Students can now even receive text message updates when a relevant opportunity is posted.
The portal’s success is due in part to the local chambers of commerce that help facilitate opportunities and connections in the community.
Chambers across the state, including right here in the Tri-Cities, have a designated staff member who regularly checks internship postings, works with businesses on their workforce challenges, and serves as a liaison between the businesses and education communities.
Our partners at the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce tell us that they’ve seen how industry and business leaders play an essential role in assisting local students as they explore career opportunities and skills so essential to becoming employable.
“Our students are eager for exposure to various careers, to explore and receive education through work-based learning, and to gain relevant experience that will contribute to their future employment,” said Brooke Myrland, the workforce and education manager for the regional chamber.
Yet despite how important internships are to both students and employers, it can be difficult for them to find one another. That’s a problem that the portal is helping to solve.
“It takes awareness and participation on both ends to create an equitable workforce system,” Myrland said. “The Washington Workforce Portal can serve as the bridge that directly connects industry, education, and students in creating a solid homegrown pipeline that will strengthen the local workforce and economy in our region”.
The workforce of tomorrow is already here. The missing link to bring them on board your business is here, too, at the Washington Workforce Portal.
Paula Linnen is principal of The Foster Institute, former executive director of external affairs at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the immediate past chair of the Association of Washington Business.
Laura Lawton is president of Lawton Printing Services and chair of the board of the Association of Washington Business.
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