For many area high school students, the first taste of their future careers could start now. Northwest Workforce Alliance recently formed in order to provide Astoria, Warrenton, Seaside and Knappa high school students the opportunity to intern at local businesses and get a feel for the business world.


Lisa Nyberg took the position as coordinator of the program in mid-November, and has since strived to construct an intriguing curriculum and gain grants from local and regional agencies.


"[Northwest Workforce Alliance] is funded through community colleges and workforce development programs, the Northwest Regional Educational Service District and Clatsop Community College," Nyberg said. "ESD funding is a pot of money all the high schools in the program contribute to, which works towards funding things the whole group would like to participate in."


The program is currently running a pilot test with five students — four from Astoria High School and one from Warrenton High School — to evaluate its viability.


Students begin with a college class called HD 209, or "How to Get the Job You Want." This class allows participants to obtain high school and college credit, and also gain what Nyberg refers to as "soft skills" — communication, teamwork and time management. Here, they also create a resume, learn employer expectations and proper interviewing techniques.


"Next, the students do some job shadows to find out what their career interests are," Nyberg said. "It sets them upon a career pathway that they're interested in … and hopefully after that we'll be able to find them an internship."


The program provides internships for students ranging in length from eight weeks to a full year, depending on the businesses' need for employees and the student's need for credits.


"For example, we have a student that wants to get into the auto field. He already has 20 college credits," Nyberg noted. "And once he gets an internship, he'll be able to beef up his resume. We have some kids who already have college credit through participating in MERTS classes, and some coming into the program with none at all."


Nyberg anticipates Northwest Workforce Alliance will find internships for up to 30 students once the program is out of the testing stages, and many of these students will already have college credits from classes such as welding and seamanship.


"We started with our pilot at AHS, and we hope to start the Seaside program in March … and have it going strong by June."


Nyberg did note, however, that there is still some work to do.


"The next step is to set up a board of business folks who would like to oversee the program — to make sure we're training the kids in the right areas, getting quality internships and moving the program forward."


Eligible students are sixteen years of age or older who have received at least ten credits towards high school graduation. Students must continue their high school coursework while enrolled in the program and proceed satisfactorily.


Any chamber or business representative in the area interested in giving a lecture, talking to the class about on-the-job safety, giving a tour of their business or hosting an intern should contact Lisa Nyberg at (503) 338-2336 or lnyberg@clatsopcc.edu.


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