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Internships and Job Training Programs

This page provides a basic overview of intern and youth employment programs, veterans training programs, and other internal job training programs for local governments in Washington State.



Overview

Many local governments provide internships and other internal job training programs to help recruit young students, veterans, and others who might be interested in working for a public agency. Depending on the situation, such opportunities might be paid or unpaid or might include educational credits.

These programs provide practical skills and education to the interns and employees while also developing a potential pipeline of future employees for the agency.


Internships and Youth Employment

Many local governments have established internship or youth employment programs to provide hands-on learning and work experience for youth. (Also see the State Work Study Program section below.)

Unlike private employers, local governments are not required to obtain a minor work permit or parent/school authorization forms to employ minors under the age of 18, as state and local public agencies are excluded from the definition of "employer" in RCW 49.12.005(3) and WAC 296-125-015(4).

Practice Tip: Internship programs typically have an educational component, and many are unpaid. Some interns may receive compensation such as a stipend or reimbursement for their expenses.

However, if the intern receives a regular wage similar to other employees, the intern is considered to be an employee and is entitled to normal employee protections under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the state Minimum Wage Act – such as minimum wage, overtime, and paid sick leave.

Courts have identified a number of factors to determine whether an intern is an employee for the purpose of wage and hour laws. For more information on these factors, see the state Department of Labor & Industries webpage on Internships, Apprenticeships & Volunteers, and especially the publication Unpaid Internships 101.

Below are selected examples of local government internship programs:


State Work Study Program

The state legislature has established a state work study program to provide financial assistance to low- and middle-income college students (chapter 28B.12 RCW).

This program, administered by the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC), provides college students with valuable work experience and provides partial wage reimbursements to participating employers. Many of these students are hired on a permanent basis after graduation.

For information on  how to participate as an employer, see the WSAC webpage State Work Study for Employers.

For an example of a local work study program, see:


Apprenticeships

State-approved apprentice programs allow entry-level workers to gain experience in highly skilled vocations through a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction.

For details on how to offer an apprenticeship program as an employer, see the Department of Labor & Industries page Offer a Registered Apprenticeship. (Also see L&I's page Apprenticeship Laws, Rules & Policies.)

For information related to apprentice utilization requirements for public works projects, see our page Public Works Contracts.


Military Veteran Programs

Some local governments have established job training and employment programs specifically for military veterans. These programs can help veterans make the transition to civilian work by identifying transferable skills and providing training and career assistance.

(For civil service positions, veterans may receive a veterans' scoring preference; for more information see our page on Civil Service. For information on reemployment rights for employees who leave civilian jobs to enter active duty, see our page on Military Leave.)

For more information to help employers, managers, and employee assistance program providers relate to and support employees who are veterans or members of the Reserve and National Guard, see the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Employment Toolkit.

The state Employment Security Department (ESD) and local WorkSource centers also offer resources to help employers recruit and hire veterans; for more information see the ESD webpage Hiring Qualified Veterans. Employers who hire veterans can also participate in the state's YesVets Program and receive decals to be displayed in the workplace.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provides a competitive grant program for local public agencies and other eligible entities to provide employment for homeless veterans; for more information see the DOL webpage Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program.

Below are examples of local government veteran training programs:

  • King County Vets 4 HIRE Program – Provides part-time or full-time structured learning immersion and work experience in a variety of fields within the county government, funded by a local property tax levy
  • Port of Seattle: Veterans – Six-month paid fellowship program partners veterans with a mentor and work group; includes eligibility requirements and military veterans employee resource group
  • Veterans Conservation Corps: Internships – Sub-program of the Washington Conservation Corps (AmeriCorps) that provides paid internships and work experience in natural resources conservation and restoration; includes local government projects and partnerships

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Last Modified: June 17, 2022