Home About Us Contact Us
Print Print Friendly

Opportunity Internship Program: Work Experience Opens Doors

The value of work experience in youth development has been well documented. The challenge is how to systematically connect youth with those work experiences.  The Opportunity Internship program has connected over 600 youth to employers in a five regions in the state. See below and to the right for more information.

Work-integrated learning experiences can range from in-class presentations by a professional or industry representative to a job shadowing and mentoring to a 90-hour paid internship. The Workforce Board has worked with the Governor’s office and the Legislature to design a statewide work-integrated learning system. Learn more about this policy initiative.

Program Details

The Opportunity Internship Program is helping students gain work experience, forging connections between what they're studying at school and the work world. Created in 2009, the program is currently operating in five regions of the state. Five-minute video explains the program.

Key Program Features

  • Targets high-demand occupations paying at least $30,000 annually.
  • Internships last at least 90 hours.
  • Connected to guidance and counseling and CTE Programs of Study.
  • Serves low-income public school students grades 10-12; qualify for free-and reduced lunch.
  • Students must be in school to have an internship.
  • Mentoring helps students complete college applications, FAFSA and financial aid applications.
  • High schools encouraged to provide academic credit for internships.

Program targets high-wage, high-demand fields
The idea behind the program is to give students work experience in high-wage, high-demand fields and a direct connection to what they're learning in school. In many cases, the Opportunity Internship Program is tied to Career and Technical Education programs, enhancing CTE career exploration and hands-on learning by taking it to the next level: the workplace.

Students who enrolled in an eligible training or education program within a year of graduating high school may be eligible for the State Need Grant program. Those students who go on to complete a postsecondary program are guaranteed an employer interview, where they will be expected to be on time, dress appropriately and answer questions. The program targets high demand occupations with a starting wage of $30,000 or more annually.

Opportunity Internship funding history
The Opportunity Internship Program was created in 2009 and funded by the state starting January 2012. Previous to that date, the program operated with some federal funding. The Workforce Board is administering the $500,000 annual project through a contract with the state's Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). All told, nearly 1,000 students have been served by the Opportunity Internship Program since 2009. The program is also included in the 2011 PASS Act, aimed at dropout prevention, among other goals.

Participating organizations include:

  • Northwest Workforce Council-Skagit, Island, Whatcom, San Juan counties
  • Olympic Workforce Development Council-Kitsap, Clallam, Jefferson counties
  • REACH Tacoma-A non-profit youth-focused community organization
  • Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council-Cowlitz, Clark, Wahkiakum counties
  • Spokane Area Workforce Development Council

Are you an interested employer? Get in touch with Mike Brennan or Amy Johnson (below) to make a connection with a participating Opportunity Internship sponsor.

Contact: Mike Brennan, mike.brennan@wtb.wa.gov, (360) 709-4616


Work experience makes a difference in youth success

Students say:


"This internship is important. It gives you really big insight. As a teenager, you really don't think about a career just yet. You think about having a weekend job, like the rest of your friends."
Valerie Elizondo
Whatcom County

Watch the video of Valerie's story now.

Employers say:

"Working at a real company doing the real work will really give you a taste of what it's like, what the real world is," Ramon Llanos, owner
Land Development Engineering & Surveying
Ferndale, Washington

More success stories and videos

Legislative Slide Presentation - 2013

2012 Interim Report to Legislature & Governor




Last Modified 3/26/2014   |   Contact Webmaster   |   Privacy Statement   |   Site Map   |   Employment   |   Access Washington   |   Register to Vote