As four interns wrap up their summer working at the Port of Tacoma, each found professional growth and newly opened doors. The internship program was the Port’s first in three years because of COVID-19, with more than 25 students applying for each position.
“With this internship, it really allowed me to see the biggest strength of Tacoma, which is the Port,” said Anwar Hassan, a Central Washington University political science and economics major who grew up in Tacoma.
Hassan is a government and community affairs intern who plans to earn a master’s degree and work in government relations. He spent the summer contributing to the Port’s community events like bus and boat tours and booths at farmers markets.
Hassan is also developing a program to connect students at Franklin Pierce High School, where he graduated, with businesses that can offer career opportunities. “Let us be the first to build those connections and those bonds so it sets students up for success,” he said.
Executive intern Lely Shim built a dashboard to track progress toward goals reflecting the Port’s strategic plan. Shim said she appreciated the opportunity to learn about Viva Goals, a platform that connects different teams to an organization’s priorities.
Shim grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia and has lived in Lakewood since 2005. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Washington Tacoma, and recently a Master of Science in business analytics. She fit her Port internship work around a full-time job as an admissions specialist for international students at Green River College.
Shim aspires to work as a business analyst in higher education, shipping, finance, or healthcare. To students considering an internship at the Port, Shim advises, “Be curious, proactive, and open minded to learn new things, and don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't know the answers.”
For Jaren Evans, the Port internship “was a stroke of luck” after his mom saw a Facebook ad about the program. Evans grew up in Tacoma and studies civil engineering at Montana State University. At the Port, Evans helped inspect bridges, filed drawings, and went up in a crane at a marine cargo terminal.
Evans’ internship introduced him to the project management side of structural work, as he concentrated on finances and budgeting. “It’s definitely another side you don’t see in school,” Evans said.
Conversations with Port employees proved especially useful and spurred him to think about career paths he had not previously considered. “The real work comes from your mentor,” Evans said. “Just talk to people, that’s the best way to learn.”
Evan Chard learned about the Port internship program at a career fair at University of Washington Tacoma, where he’s earning a major in computer science and a minor in business data analytics. As an intern in the Port operations department, Chard inputs daily import and export numbers and tracks expenses.
“Everyone here really likes doing their job,” Chard said about employees at the Port. He enjoyed visiting the marine cargo terminals and joining a public bus tour of Port facilities.
Chard plans to work in data analytics and said seeing different jobs at the Port has helped him understand more career paths. “Before coming here, I didn’t know where these jobs could take you, but I’ve learned there’s a lot of good opportunity inside the Port, you can really build from one job to the next,” he said.
The Port’s internship program is designed to give enrolled college students opportunities they do not find in the classroom. Intern positions vary from year to year depending on the needs of Port departments. All internships are paid and are likely to be posted in late February or early March for the following summer.