PWA collaborates with many community partners to offer mentorships, internships and other opportunities for students to work with employers and earn valuable career experience.

ACE Mentor Program

ACE is an after-school opportunity that helps high school students find their career passions, college aspirations and educational paths toward family-wage jobs in architecture, construction and engineering. The program serves 150 Oregon students a year and relies on 100 volunteer professional mentors to coach students in a hands-on, team-oriented project over 12 weeks. ACE serves students from throughout the Portland metro area, including as far away as Sandy and Colton. ACE has demonstrated remarkable success in furthering self-sufficiency by helping Oregon students graduate, earn college scholarships and make informed career decisions. Learn more about the ACE Mentor Program of Oregon, a local nonprofit with a special partnership with PWA.

Summer Construction Camp

High school students spend eight weeks at a job site working with a construction crew, earning more than $3,000 over the summer while learning carpentry, teamwork and other skills. This program has served more than 100 students from the Portland metro area over the past decade, and is made possible by local contractors and the Pacific Northwest Carpenters Institute. Some students have gone on after graduation to become apprentices and journeymen, finding a good family-wage job by their early 20s.

PACE Mentorship Program

PACE gives Portland-area high school students the chance to work directly with carpenters, plumbers, electricians and sheet metal workers on a hand-on project. One goal is to engage students by connecting them with caring professionals who teach them useful, interesting skills. The other is to familiarize students with well-paying career opportunities within the construction industry, including management and the skilled trades. PACE is a collaborative effort by Portland Public Schools, PWA, Associated General Contractors and several leading apprenticeship training centers.

Health care internships

PWA helps identify and recruit promising students for internships in health care. Our partners include Kaiser Permanente and Oregon Health & Science University. Kaiser Permanente Northwest offers summer internship opportunities to high school juniors and seniors in the business/management department and pharmacy organization. OHSU offers multiple internships and volunteering opportunities to high school students.

Mentorships and internships: What the research says

We all know that career-related learning raises graduation rates and boosts college attendance. But here’s what else the research and survey data tell us about mentorships, internships and other opportunities for deeper learning:

An internship is the single most valuable thing to have on your resume.

Young people who grow up to become engaged employees on fulfilling pathways tend to cite two key reasons for their success: One is having a teacher who served as a mentor and advocate. The other is holding an internship that was relevant to their education.

Students who enter the job market after high school or college without an internship or other relevant work experience find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Further reading: Check out a 2014 essay by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman on the value of internships. (Sept 9, 2014)