Sophie Mancione juggled vases in her arms as internship boss Brittainy Tiffany sent her to decorate a bedroom at the NW Natural Street of Dreams. “You got it, got to be efficient, what do I always say? No wasted trips.” Tiffany team members tell us styling these show homes is like “Fashion Week” a high- pressure, highly visible job where designers show of their best work. This rising senior at George Fox University is reveling in the experience “I wanted somewhere I could get a lot of different experiences do a lot of different things. Í definitely knew I wanted to do staging, with all the hands on, its very creative.”
Tiffany has hired interns for many years, working with George Fox to post this summer’s internship. Tiffany tells us she feels strongly interns should be paid, as it makes the experience more professional. Tiffany shows interns the broad scope of the design business, from meeting with clients, to working in her retail store, to styling. We watched her coach Mancione about how to place and hang a painting onto the wall of this multimillion- dollar home. “I think when people hang art, they hang it too high.” Tiffany finds teachable moments as often as possible.
Tiffany designers say interns learn quickly that interior design is not all glamour, they often are hauling décor up and down stairs, and work long hours. Mancione says it made her classroom lessons come to life. “You never get to feel like how everything works when you are in school like when you are in the real world, working with clients. I think everyone should get an internship and get that experience.” Mancione says after this summer internship, she feels ready to enter the residential home design business when she leaves school. And one day, she hopes she’ll own her own design business.
Internships are regulated by the Federal Labor Standards Act, and employers should check with their state Labor Department for specific rules that distinguish interns from regular employees. In general, courts have determined interns are there to apply what they would learn in a classroom, and could involve receiving class credit. The internship should have a designated beginning and end, and should be tied to the student’s academic calendar. The National Association of Colleges & Employers and federal law emphasizes, internships are not meant to replace an employee. Employers are advised; create a job description for the intern, and provide the intern with routine feedback.
The interns featured here are being paid. Local colleges report minimum wage to $18 per hour is typical for the Portland area. The internship recruiting platform Handshake explains unpaid internships typically favor students with higher incomes “Paid internships create a more equitable environment across the board and your workplace’s commitment to the wellbeing of your entry-level workers, no matter their background.” In addition, Handshake recommends any advertisement you place for an intern is inclusive to students attending both two-year and four -year colleges. Interns don’t have to be young. AARP advocates for “Returnship” programs, where older candidates, career changers, or people who have taken a career break are welcomed to train for new professions.
While HBF advocates for paid internships, federal law says an employer can host an unpaid internship if there is a formal agreement. In the Portland Metro area, there are opportunities to host an intern who is paid by and vetted by an organization. There are several workforce development programs training young people for their first work experience that actively recruit employers wanting interns. The programs use a variety of federal, state, and community grants to pay the interns and even provide them with support such as bus passes and tools.
Former Intern Trains Another
is supervising a summer intern who is training for a new career. Portland Community College student Jeff Hickok wanted to be an architect when he was in high school, but entered the military, raised a family, and worked other jobs. Now a grandfather in his mid-40’s, he is hoping to finally achieve his dream through classes and this summer internship.
HBF helped Progressive Builders post the internship with PCC, and Hickok applied. ” I didn’t have a resume. I felt it was better to talk face to face, so I called directly.” His job- hunting skills might have been a bit “old school”, but Florio says he’s brought a strong work ethic and is great dealing with customers.
Florio has been in this “return to work” position herself. Back in 2007, Florio was an empty nester with two kids in college when she applied and won a scholarship for PCC. “I never would have dreamed the scholarship would lead to mentorship. This has been life changing for me.” HBF scholarship committee member and Progressive Builder NW owner Jim Feild gave Florio an internship, recalling Florio being very shy when he first took her on calls. ” Once she built her confidence, she soon stood toe to toe with subcontractors and inspectors.” After her internship, Florio was hired at Progressive Builders and has worked there the past 15 years.
Hickok acknowledges, being a beginner again isn’t easy “It’s been a bit hectic. I haven’t been a worker and a student for 20 years”. Progressive Builders invested in additional software so Hickok can work with clients independently. He’s been such a good fit, history is repeating itself. Hickok been hired to continue working at Progressive Builders while his internship ends. They’re even carving out space for his own office.
How to find an Intern? Resources
- Handshake.com: Most local colleges require positions to be posted on the website, providing access to 9M+ students nationwide.
- SummerWorks: SummerWorks.org. Multnomah & Washington Counties:
- Ages 16-24. Intern wages are paid with grants:
- C-Tec: Ctechyouthservices.org. Clackamas County
- Ages 14-24. Intern wages paid with grants.
- Partners in Careers: Partnersincareers.org. Vancouver Washington
- Vancouver School District high school students. Intern wages paid with grants.