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.
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.
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:
- Anacortes Wastewater Treatment Plant Internship Opportunities – Prospective interns must contact the plant
- Kennewick Fire Department Paramedic Internship Programs – Information for interns completing paramedic school field experience
- King County Internships – Includes eligibility information and FAQs
- Kitsap County Public Works Summer Employment Program – Full-time summer program that provides higher wages each summer the student returns
- Longview Fire Department Intern Program – Three-year, three-phase program for college students to obtain hands-on firefighting experience
- Pierce County:
- Internship Program – Includes internship opportunities and profiles of various department interns that include what they do and advice for future interns
- Volunteer as Prosecuting Attorney Intern or Extern – Unpaid legal positions; also includes high school and college job shadows
- Port Angeles Police Department College Intern Program – Open to undergraduate and graduate students; typically requires a minimum of 250 hours of work
- Internships – Includes information on eligibility, benefits, and currently available internships
- Internships at Seattle City Light – Includes high school and college internships
- Youth Employment Program – Supports young people ages 16-24 from qualifying-income households and communities that experience racial, social, and economic disparities. Includes school-year program, paid summer internships, and private internship opportunities
- Parks and Recreation Job Opportunities for Teens – Various job opportunities, mostly during the summer
- Snohomish County Internship Information – Includes current internship opportunities as well as links to learn more about specific county departments and programs
- Spokane Internship Program Policies and Procedures (2005) – Applies to all city departments; includes department responsibilities, maximum duration of internships, and compensation (typically unpaid)
- Tukwila Youth Engagement Opportunities – Includes summer high school internship program
- Vancouver Water Center Internships – Paid and unpaid internships for biology, education, or public relations students; includes examples of intern duties
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:
- Spokane State Work Study Program Policy and Procedure (2015) – Applies to all departments; includes procedures for hiring work study students, compensation and eligible hours, reimbursement, and employee benefits
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.
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.)
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) offers a SkillBridge program to help military veterans receive training and development with participating employers; for more information see DOD Skillbridge: Industry Partners/Employers.
The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) also offers a Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship to help transitioning service members move into local government careers, as well as a City-County Management Senior Fellowship Program to help Army participants gain a better understanding of city/county management and build professional relationships with city and county leaders.
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
- Washington Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board – State board publishes the state workforce plan and provides other plans, programs, and resources
- Washington Service Corps – AmeriCorps program connecting service members and under-resources communities throughout the state, including local governments
- U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration – Administers federal job training and worker dislocation programs, grants to states for public employment service programs, and unemployment insurance benefits. Includes grant opportunities, workforce tools, and other resources