Speaking of interns… the Emerging Leaders Internship offers a compelling opportunity to source talented interns for your organization. That’s why Business for a Better Portland is encouraging local companies to participate in the program again this year. But you have to hurry because applications close soon.
[Editor: The following is a guest post by Meredith Goddard, Founder & Director of Five Years In]
Teenagers are less likely than ever to work summer jobs. There has been a precipitous and unprecedented decline in labor force participation rate for teenagers over the last 20 years. In August of 1998, 52.8% of 16-19 year olds participated in the labor force, a number that held steady since the 1950s. In August of 2017, just 35.2% percent of 16-19 year olds participated in the labor force, meaning most Millenials (and younger) have not held summer jobs. Instead of work, many young people are spending more time in summer school, traveling with sports teams and engaging in unpaid internships.
Nearly two years ago, Ryan Buchanan penned a post that accurately described the Portland business community as being “too white, too male.” But rather than simply pointing out the issue, he took his own call to arms and took action. With the announcement of the Portland Emerging Leaders Internship program.
“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. Read More
A few weeks back, I wrote a rant about the abysmal state of Oregon’s tech education in which I encouraged anyone in tech—but especially those folks at startups—to consider his/her potential role in helping to resolve the issues currently plaguing our educational system.
Talk, as they say, is cheap.
So how can we act?
Well, admittedly, this is an awfully big problem, but to wax—and perhaps unintentionally slaughter—more platitudes, the journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.
And, I’m proud to say that we, as a burgeoning collective, have already taken two:
- Oregon Tech & Education is an online discussion group designed to gather interested parties, encourage discussion, and facilitate action. If you are at all interested in helping, participating, or just watching what’s happening. I encourage you to join. Even if you just lurk. And I encourage you to invite the teachers and administrators in your life to join, as well.
- Silicon Florist internship/mentorship challenge is a call to all Silicon-Forest-based startups to consider offering a summer internship for high school or college students in your area. No one knows more about what you do than you. And teaching someone who knows nothing about what you do could be one of the most rewarding things you ever accomplish as an entrepreneur. If you’re interested—not even yet to the “willing to participate” phase, just interested—please throw your hat into the ring as one of the participating startups.
From time to time, I’ll keep you posted on these steps, and other steps that the resourceful folks of the Silicon Forest are taking to resolve this issue.
I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish.
A week ago, I went off on a little rant about the sorry state of Oregon’s technology and education mix. And how I hoped that all of us startup types could use our creativity to figure out how to fix the problem.
And while all of this was inspiring, it suddenly meant that I actually needed to do something.
The problem is a big one. And we’re not going to solve it tomorrow. But if we take small steps, we’ll get there.
But, we need to get the ball rolling. And quickly.
So I’m happy to report that I think I’ve come up with one of those small steps. I think.
I was going to announce this on Tuesday, but given the date, I was concerned about the announcement being perceived as a joke. And then I saw the hubbub about April 3 being Good People Day. And that seemed like the perfect day to announce the idea.
You let me know if this sounds feasible and we’ll go from there.
The Silicon Florist Internship Challenge
Summer break is right around the corner. And at the same time, most of the startups to whom I’m speaking are crunching on more work than ever.
Let’s see, underly busy people and overly busy people. What could we do with some of those smart kids and some of those startups needing help?
That’s right. Internships.
Just think. What if you had had the opportunity as a high-school or college student to shadow an entrepreneur like you? What if you had had the opportunity to learn some of the secrets of business or coding or planning or writing or whatever? How cool would that have been? How much better prepared would you have been to do what you’re doing now?
I think the value to the students is pretty obvious.
So, I’m suggesting that we all work to take on some interns this summer. Could be paid. Could be just a learning and experience kind of thing.
I don’t really care how you structure the compensation arrangement. I just want to see you do it.
Set up an internship. Make it 6 weeks or so. Get a few kids to spend 5-10 hours a week learning about your work.
You can do it. I know you can.
Oh, I hear you. “That seems like a lot of work. What—besides warm fuzzies—is in it for me?”
Well, you get some help doing some of your work for one thing. You get a fresh viewpoint, for another. You have to explain what you do and why you do it to someone else. You get to validate your reasoning. You get to teach. And, perhaps best of all, you get someone who actually wants to listen to you blather on and on about your project.
But, I’ll also work to throw in some other benefits. I’m not exactly sure what they are yet. But every company that volunteers to participate in the Silicon Florist Internship Challenge will receive something along the lines of:
- A dedicated Silicon Florist article featuring your company and your internship program. Maybe I even let your interns post some entries about why your startup is so cool.
- A mention in the press release I plan to put out when I pitch this program to the traditional media and schools. As well as my help flacking that release and your company to the best of my abilities.
- A free post on the Silicon Florist Gig board to advertise your internship, and just for good measure, I’ll throw in a free job posting for use whenever you like. (I know that your company is going to be growing.)
- Some cool Web graphic that helps you promote your participation in the program.
- My promise to promote your internship opportunity, to help you find the candidates to get it filled, and to continue to support your program throughout the summer.
- Oh, and of course, there will have to be some Silicon Florist swag.
… and probably some other things that folks more creative than me will suggest. As I said, I haven’t really thought through your fabulous prize package, yet. But I will.
So what’s next?
Well, first, you need to tell me if this is even a good idea. I’m going to work to hire a couple of interns this summer, one way or the other. But I’d like you to join in the fun. If you think it might work.
And while I’m really interested in seeing what the small Web startups and individuals are capable of doing, I’ll more than welcome the big tech companies around town if they want to join in on the fun.
I just need to know if you’re up to the challenge. We can discuss specifics later.
So let me know, as quickly as possible. We’ll plan on doing the heavy outreach and promotion of the program and its participants on May 1, 2008. That gives you a few weeks to get your ducks in a row. And it will give me a couple of weeks to help formalize the internship guidelines.
I’m looking forward to this. I hope you’ll join me. This could be really good for both the kids and companies of Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, Bend, Vancouver—the entire Silicon Forest—in a number of ways.
Let’s get going on this.