Summer Jobs 253: Apply now for credits, career exploration, cash

"Early bird" deadline is Jan. 31

1/6/2017 | TACOMA, Washington

​Nearly 60 years ago, Eddie Cochran sang “there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues,” about a teenager who has to work all summer “just to try and earn a dollar.”

Times have changed, but teens still need something to do during the summer break—and making a few bucks along the way certainly doesn’t hurt. Enter Summer Jobs 253, a partnership between Tacoma Public Schools, the City of Tacoma and several local non-profits including the REACH Center, Tacoma Community House and Workforce Central. Summer Jobs 253 places student interns in paid positions that also earn academic credit. The program started four years ago, after Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland attended a conference with President Obama, who challenged mayors to create plans to lower high youth unemployment rates.

The typical range of internships each year runs the gamut from banking to farming. Farming? Yes.

Lincoln High School biology teacher Kale Iverson employs half a dozen Summer Jobs 253 interns for Abe’s Golden Acres in the summertime, a small farm on the Lincoln campus that produces hundreds of pounds of fresh produce for local food banks.

On the other end of the spectrum, consider the experience of Lincoln student Courtney McCauley, who so impressed her employers at Columbia Bank during her summer internship in 2015 that they hired her for an after-school position during the ensuing school year.

“The Summer Jobs 253 interns are the highlight of my year,” said Shari Kalsta, Columbia Bank Senior Compensation Analyst, McCauley’s boss during her internship. “My past interns have delighted me with their computer knowledge and skills. They’ve really contributed to the Columbia Bank team in a meaningful way, and we are able to give back to the community by providing a place for these amazing students to hone their job skills. It’s a win-win."

The 2017 edition of Summer Jobs 253 aims to place 253 current sophomores and juniors in paid internships. Students earn $11.15 per hour for 96 hours of work over the course of the summer, and also receive up to two academic credits for high school—or, if they don’t need the extra high school credits, three college course credits through Tacoma Community College. Students must be 16 years old before June 1 to be eligible. Along with the work at local businesses, students must attend an unpaid 20-hour training week, and complete online coursework on career and business skills such as financial literacy, workplace ethics and goal setting.

Early applicants get first consideration. A team from the district’s Career and Technical Education program will select half of this year’s interns from applications received before Jan. 31. The final deadline is March 31.

Students may apply online at