The Next, Next Generation: City of Hillsboro Internship Program

Posted on August 11, 2014

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22-usa-fan-mouth.w1120.h750Emily Leuning returns after spending countless hours watching random World Cup games and wearing USA t-shirts for the entire month of July. She’s back with the story of the City of Hillsboro’s internship program which began this year under the leadership of Michael Brown, city manager.

The Next, Next Generation

by Emily Leuning, Connect: LinkedIn and Twitter

August 11, 2014

download (2)Quick: when we say Hillsboro, you think______? Intel and the western terminus of the Blue Max line? Yep. Oregon’s 5th largest city (right after Portland, Salem, Eugene and Gresham, in case you were wondering) isn’t all engineers and Trimet riders though; the City of Hillsboro implemented an internship program this summer for high school and Portland Community College students to gain professional experience in the public sector. Naturally, we wanted to find out more.

Below, you’ll find feedback from Kristi Wilson, Hillsboro’s Management Analyst, as well as four of the interns: Karissa Pavlik, Rachel Simon, Emily Van Vleet, and Anisha Datta.

ELGL: Why was Hillsboro’s internship program started?

Kristi Wilson, Management Analyst at City of Hillsboro: The first group of high school interns started their 10-week internship in June.  PCC Future Connect interns started the first week of July.

downloadThe program was started to give young students in our community an opportunity to explore careers in public service.  Each internship is designed to be a meaningful learning experience for both the interns and the City staff.  Each of the interns are getting a unique, paid summer work experience where they either learn more about a field they are interested in, or getting an introduction and experience in a field they did not know about.  An added benefit is the new ideas and vibrancy that comes with the young interns.  They bring a fresh, new perspective and insight to various programs, projects and events throughout the City.

Additional motivators:

Showing youth in our community there is a vast array of jobs in Public Service.  Many students easily recognize Police Officers and Fire Fighters to local government (both departments do an amazing job with Public Outreach and community involvement), but many students don’t know about Water Treatment Plant Operators, Long Range Planners, Traffic Engineers, Webmaster, etc.  This knowledge can open doors when youth begin to identify potential careers in their future or start to schedule college courses.

Currently, the unemployment rate for workers in the 16-25 age group is significantly higher than the national unemployment rate.

ELGL: What is the cost to the city of running the program?download (3)

KW: It’s difficult to put an exact dollar amount since we haven’t made it through a budget cycle.  We pay high school interns $10/hr and students participating in the PCC Future Connect Program $12/hr.

ELGL: Can you give a few examples of projects assigned to the interns?

KW: Each of the intern supervisor’s have gone above and beyond to create valuable, meaningful jobs partnered with an amazing unique learning experience.  Here are just a few of the great projects:

Planning Interns: Organizing traffic impact studies, using GIS to create various map, creating a map with general boundaries of neighborhoods throughout Hillsboro, and inputing permit information into records system.

Community Garden Intern:  Designing a composting system & education related components for Hillsboro’s Community Gardens.

IS Interns:

  • Working with the City’s 3D Printer and demonstrating how it can be applicable. Current projects include making a scale model of a water reservoir and creating a miniature model of the front desk of a library to improve efficiency.
  • Working on historical documentation of orchards in the area to support GIS mapping
  • Learn about the City’s new Business Process Management Program, Eureka!, relate principles to Centro Cultural’s (a non-profit that provides services to Washington County) Robotics Team and the First Lego League.

download (1)Human Resources Intern:  Assisting with the development of the internship program, which includes coordinating intern networking events & group tours.

Parks & Recreation Interns:  Assisting with summer youth programs and camps, planning and coordinating special events such as Celebrate Hillsboro, Showtime @ Shute Park, and All-Comer’s 5Ks.

City Manager’s Office/Public Affairs:  interviewing community members, local businesses, and city employees to gain material to write articles for City publications.

Hillsboro Community Senior Center:  Working on the Center’s first Fundraising Auction.

Water Treatment Plant:  Working side by side with WTP maintenance crews to broaden his knowledge of mechanics and maintenance.

ELGL: How many interns applied for the program?

KW: This year, the internships were offered to a cohort of 50 students participating in the PCC Future Connect Program and 30 high school students members to the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council.  In total, 18 internships were awarded.

ELGL: What were the three biggest challenges in starting the program?

KW: With this being the first year of the program, there have been some learning experiences – but I haven’t experienced any great challenges.  If I had to list 3, they would likely be:

  • Developing effective communication skills for various interns and supervisors – identifying how often to check in with supervisor/interns (how much is too much vs how much is too little), how to best communicate with all interns (some interns out in the field, some interns work evenings, etc.)
  • Designing the program to ensure youth with little to no previous work experience can have a smooth transition into a professional work environment.
  • Logistics – Working with IS to set up workstations w/necessary software, setting up payroll accounts, scheduling new hire orientation to review personal policies, etc.  Each intern required preparation so we were ready for them to arrive.

Karissa Pavlik, Business Process Management Intern in the Information Systems Department

ELGL: How did you become interested in local government?YAC

KP: I became interested via Hillsboro’s Youth Advisory Council. I have been a member for two years (going on three), and I’ve definitely enjoyed my experience there. Local government isn’t something I had ever considered before my involvement in YAC, and it’s definitely a bigger operation that I would have imagined. I’ve very much enjoyed seeing this large aspect of the city I live in.

ELGL: What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?

KP: The sum of my internship is focused on helping a collection of robotics teams (three teams from the same organization: Centro Cultural) improve their processes and teamwork using elements of the city’s Eureka! program. I have two years of experience with FRC robotics (high school level), but I’ve never worked with FLL (4th to 8th grade: LEGO robotics) before this summer. My job has revolved around this one-week workshop that I’m (along with my supervisor, Steve Pleasant) putting on for them. My work has included research of FLL (First Lego League), originating presentations for talks with the kids, and a very time intensive workbook that guides the kids through the workshop. The workshop consists of presentations from me, activities, games, and presentations from the kids emulating what competition is like.

Emily Van Vleet, Parks and Recreation Special Events Intern

Why did you apply for the internship?

IMG_0632EVV: I applied for this internship in the Parks & Rec Special Events department because I wanted the opportunity to be a part of helping city events come together. I have worked with the Parks department before, so I knew the people there are both kind and extremely helpful. I knew it would be a great opportunity to learn a lot!

ELGL: What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?

EVV: My favorite project has definitely been Celebrate Hillsboro. Even though it meant putting in a few 12 hour days and a lot of hard work, seeing the event come together was priceless. I had the opportunity to coordinate volunteers, write and post social media, and set up the event. I learned so much about the importance of organization and all the little details that go into making a great event!

Rachel Simon, Human Resources Intern

ELGL: Why did you apply for the internship?

RS: I applied for an internship at the City of Hillsboro because, unlike many other summer jobs, I felt this internship had a real sense of purpose and would give me experience to help me achieve my goals. I hope to someday have a career that has a positive impact on my community and makes me feel like I am doing something good for the world. Getting an internship in government seemed like the perfect place to start. This internship is allowing me to explore the many facets of local government and feel like I am spending my summer doing something to help my community.

Of the internships available, I chose to apply for the Program Development Internship in the Human Resources Department. I chose this internship because it combines many of my skills and interests, and will teach me many valuable skills. I am passionate about working with people, organization, and managing projects. This internship combines all of these and more into a busy but exciting field. By spending my summer in this position, I am improving many of my management skills while learning new skills to help me succeed in a professional environment.

ELGL: What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?

large_fileRS: My favorite project has been creating a document designed to help other city workers get to know each of the 19 interns. To create this document, I not only got to design a publication to go out to all city employees, but I also got to meet with each intern individually to photograph and interview them. The interviews were extremely beneficial because they allowed me to learn about so many different departments in our city government. It was amazing to me to see how many different fields work together to keep our city running properly. Also, it was wonderful to see how passionate the other interns are about their jobs. Each intern was excited to tell me about all the new skills they were learning and how happy they were to be gaining professional experience so early on. They all seemed so filled with drive and purpose to do well in their internships and continue to try to meet their life goals.  It’s been wonderful to see what kind of impact a program like this can have on the lives of youth.

The entire internship program has been such an amazing experience. All of the city employees have been kind and gracious enough to allow many of us interns to sit down with them for informational interviews to learn about possible career paths. I’m getting so much valuable exposure to different fields, all while feeling like I’m learning  and contributing to my community.

Anisha Datta, City Manager’s Office Intern

ELGL: How did you become interested in local government?

578305_167596056728286_1722186713_nAD: I come from a family that is very politically-aware. The discussions I had with my parents and relatives growing up sparked my interest in the power and scope of government to execute policies that create change. In high school, I was a part of my school’s Speech and Debate team and student newspaper, both of which involved background (therefore, research) on government and politics on all levels. During my junior year I joined Hillsboro’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC), which gave me many opportunities to further interact and network with my local government – including providing me with an all-expense paid trip to the National League of Cities Conference in Washington DC with our mayor, council president, and other YAC members. Being born and raised in Hillsboro, observing and involving myself in local government was a great way to see how different interests influenced the environment I lived in. It’s great to be part of an organization that oversees a community that I am so familiar with.

ELGL: What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on so far?

AD: Writing! I’ve had to write articles to publicize city events and inform the community, and researching/interviewing for them has taught me so much about my community. I recently wrote a particularly enjoyable article about the tech industry in Hillsboro (which has been integral to our economic development).

Supplemental Reading

Hometown Interns

Counting on Kids from Classroom to Career

The Transition with Patrick Preston, City of Hillsboro

Knopes of the Week: City of Hillsboro and Hillsboro Hops

The Rest of the Story on the Hillsboro Police Recruitment

Defining Sustainability: Learning from 6 Years of Successes

The Takeaway with Barbara Simon, City of Hillsboro


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