May 12th, 2009
Portland startups: Get a paid intern for free, help some kids at the same time
“If I only had more time to do [x].” It’s a phrase the confounds many a startup. And truly, every once in a while, that confounding problem is something terribly technical that requires a specific level of expertise. But most of the time, it’s simply something that needs to get done. Yet something for which it is impossible to find the time. And that makes it all the more aggravating.
All it would take is someone to help you do it. But that—especially for bootstrapped companies and side projects—can make the problem even more insurmountable. The idea of paying someone to do the job? Usually, not an option.
You know what would be perfect for completing these tasks? An intern. Even better? A paid intern. Someone who was getting reimbursed to help you with your project. And someone who had some skin in the game to perform at a level that would help your startup improve.
I started banging this drum last year with the Silicon Florist internship challenge. While interest was high, throughput—especially on my end—was not. We simply needed more resources to pull it off.
If only there were an easier way for us to find people who were engaged and willing. Some way for us to quickly marshal resources and get people who are interested in learning involved in projects that could use the help. It would be a perfect win-win situation. We’d gain some smart hands to help us move more quickly. We would rovide that person or persons with some valuable mentoring. And we’d finally get around to checking some of those tasks off our list.
Enter the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) and their summer intern program. The program focuses on equipping at-risk youth with the skills they’ll need to succeed in business. And nothing could be a better educational experience than spending four to eight weeks with your startup.
The interns—who range in age from 16 to 24—are available for up to 30 hours per week of work, paid by the Portland OIC.
That’s an awful lot of focused time helping you knock out those tasks that have been waiting to get done, isn’t it?
And yes, you read that correctly: these folks will work for you as interns for up to 30 hours a week and will get paid by the Portland OIC. You get help. They get training. Everyone wins.
Here’s how it works:
Portland OIC Will:
- Act as the employer of the Trainees, taking responsibility for the Trainee’s wages, worker’s compensation and any other compensatory responsibilities;
- Recruit, screen and provide pre-employment training to Trainees, including an interest inventory, in order to determine which trainees best fit a given work opportunity;
- Provide a Job Coach, who will advise and prepare the Trainee, and will be available to the Trainee and the Workplace Supervisor for trainee counseling, job placement, crisis intervention, information sharing and any other assistance needed to foster a successful relationship between POIC, Workplace and the Trainee;
- Provide coordination between POIC, the Workplace, and the Trainee(s), including orientation and guidance for Workplace supervisors, and
- Provide or coordinate procurement of training materials (e.g. safety gear, uniforms, etc.) and provide bus passes to Trainees.
The Workplace Will:
- Provide Trainee with a structured and well-supervised training/learning experience, which will introduce and reinforce the demands, rewards and sanctions associated with holding a job;
- Review the Trainee’s goals for the experience and work with the student to meet those goals;
- Assist in monitoring time and attendance;
- Consult with POIC Job Coach about any issues, needs or problems;
- Comply with all State and Federal laws pertaining to training, child labor and other workplace regulations, and
- Provide feedback on the progress and development of the Trainee.
The Trainee Will:
- Develop written goals for this experience, to be reviewed by Job Coach and provided to Workplace Supervisor;
- Maintain regular attendance to jobsite, and notify POIC and Workplace prior to any absence;
- Use proper work habits, including honesty, punctuality, courtesy, cooperativeness, and proper hygiene, grooming and dress;
- Consult with Job Coach and Workplace regarding problems or changes to goals and duties;
- Conform to rules and regulations of worksite, and
- Make a good faith effort to perform assigned job duties and maximize the training opportunity.
Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? And it could be the very help you’ve been seeking—without any of the headaches that have been preventing us from pursuing this as an option.
What’s more, this will be an incredibly rewarding experience that gives back to the community. You’ll be teaching someone some very important skills, introducing them to the potential of the startup community in Portland, and mentoring someone who has the potential to be the next big thing around here.
Want to apply? It’s as simple as filling out the application form and returning it to Asa Pritchard (APritchard [at] poicrahs [dot] org). Asa is also available to answer any questions you have about the program.
Here’s hoping you take this opportunity to help your startup and our community.