Why should you apply for Summer Jobs 253? Students share their stories

3/21/2016 | TACOMA, Washington

Rising high school juniors and seniors: ready to land a paying job, boost your resume and earn up to two school credits? Apply by March 31 to participate in Summer Jobs 253. 

Summer Jobs 253 offers high school students age 16 or older the opportunity to earn nearly $1,200 working a paid internship at a local business or organization. The program runs June 22 through August 31. 

​Lincoln High School senior Courtney McCauley's summer internship at
Columbia Bank turned into employment during the school year.
​Internships are available at a wide 
variety of local business and organizations, such as Baseline Engineering, the City of Tacoma, Metro Parks, MultiCare Health System, the Tacoma Art Museum and Titus-Will Ford. To apply, ask your school career counselor for an application

Summer Jobs 253 works to meet your needs. If you have another job or family travel planned, the program can create a flexible schedule. If you don’t have reliable transportation, the program will provide bus passes. Don’t miss your opportunity to explore career options and increase your readiness to earn employment or college acceptance.  

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Need more convincing? Read Courtney and Gloria’s stories to see how participating in Summer Jobs 253 last summer paid off. 

A surprising bank job opens door to career skills, mentorship 
The gleaming nine-story headquarters of Columbia Bank felt intimidating the first time Lincoln High School student Courtney McCauley visited. She wasn’t sure working at a bank was the right fit for her since she loves the arts. 

Ten-months later Courtney still works for Columbia Bank, helping the Human Resources department keep track of volumes of paperwork and projects. She so impressed bank staff with her work during Summer Jobs 253 that they asked her to work after school during her senior year.  

​Lincoln High School student Courtney McCauley works with Columbia
Bank supervisor and mentor Shari Kalsta.
​ ​​​​​​​​​​
“The bank is actually a really fun job,” Courtney said recently. “Even though I thought I’d get a job in the arts, I’d rather be at the bank because I’m getting good job experience out of this.” 

Despite no prior professional job experience, Courtney’s analytical thinking, technology skills and persistence quickly won over her supervisor, who became a good friend and mentor. 

“She literally blew me away with what she already knew coming in,” said supervisor Shari Kalsta. “She has a really great way of organizing her thoughts and communicating with us.” 

The bank HR staff assigned Courtney progressively harder tasks, including auditing parking records and ensuring employees had signatures on file when they received benefits. Kalsta regularly met with Courtney one-on-one at Starbucks for mentoring sessions, where they talked about Courtney’s interests, strengths and possible career paths. 

Courtney is now learning enough skills that she could be hired as a human resources specialist after graduation. She paved the way for more Tacoma high school students to work at Columbia Bank, too. After Summer Jobs 253 ended, the bank decided to expand from two interns over the summer to five every semester. 

“The quality of the work was outstanding, and the process of meeting Courtney and going through the process of giving her that first step into the world of business was amazing,” Kalsta said.  

Summer Jobs 253 paves way to new job 
Gloria Muhammad starts her job at a work pod in the Office of Student Engagement at Tacoma Community College, planning an alternative spring break trip.

She researches local organizations and restaurants to see what the trip should include, from attending a hip hop workshop with local non-profit Fab 5 to volunteering at the Hilltop Urban Gardens.

Gloria credits Summer Jobs 253 for her ongoing work in the cheery TCC workspace. During the summer program she worked in Enrollment Services at TCC, helping answer phone calls, greet visitors at the front desk and process applications. 

​Fresh Start student Gloria Muhammad works in the Office of
Student Engagement at Tacoma Community College, a
job she earned after participating in Summer Jobs 253.
The skills she learned—communication, problem-solving, teamwork—were exactly what the Office of Student Engagement was looking for when it started hiring student ambassadors. 

“We were looking for students who had strong leadership, teamwork and collaboration,” said Edwina Fui, one of Gloria’s current supervisors. “Gloria is very good at asking questions, staying organized, providing new insights into things we could do better.” 

The work in the Enrollment Office prepared Gloria by throwing her into a few tough spots—which she succeeded in mastering. At first, she got nervous answering phones and receiving questions she didn’t know the answer to. But the situation sharpened her problem-solving skills by getting her to research the answer online or ask guidance from others in the department. 

“My favorite moment was toward the end of the internship when I felt more comfortable answering phone calls and knowing what to say without asking for help,” Gloria said. “That felt like a sense of accomplishment.” 

As a Fresh Start student, Gloria takes classes at TCC, earning her high school diploma and community college associate’s degree at the same time. She recommends any high school student take advantage of Summer Jobs 253.

“Keep an open mind, be patient with yourself and other people because you’re going to be learning new skills,” she said. “Sometimes you may think, ‘oh this is a silly job, why do I need this?’ But those skills you’re learning can help you afterward.” 

Summer Jobs 253 program details 
Tacoma Public Schools, the City of Tacoma and several local non-profits including the REACH Center, Tacoma Community House and Workforce Central jointly sponsor Summer Jobs 253. The program started four years ago after Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland sparked the idea after attending a conference with President Barack Obama, who challenged mayors to create plans to lower high youth unemployment rates. 

The program includes a 20-hour orientation and training week, 120 on-site work hours and online coursework on career and business skills such as financial literacy, workplace ethics and goal setting that can earn students up to two high school credits. 

Last year, 150 students earned acceptance to the program and worked at 49 different employment sites. For more information about the program, visit www.summerjobs253.com or call Tacoma Public Schools’ Career & Technical Education department at 253-571-1126.