Work Experience

Create work experiences for underrepresented youth.

Portland Means Progress features work experience service programs managed by Worksystems and the Portland Leadership Foundation. The City of Portland invests annually in these programs – which provide underrepresented youth a paid and meaningful work experience opportunity. These programs have access to an existing pipeline of program participants and provide employer/workplace vetting and participant preparation and vetting.


10 Tips for a Successful Internship

from SummerWorks


Emerging Leaders

The Emerging Leaders Internship (ELI) program matches recent college graduates, undergraduates, post-graduate students, and PhD candidates of color with paid internships at Portland’s top companies. Emerging Leaders is dedicated to diversifying the workforce by providing pathways to leadership for underrepresented communities. Its mission is to empower diverse talent to excel as professionals through opportunity and a supportive community.

Youth Demographic: Recent college graduates, undergraduates, post-graduate students, and PhD candidates of color

Cost: Administrative Fee: $1500 per intern; Salary/wages: minimum of $15 hourly

Duration: minimum of 10 weeks for 30 hours a week

Timeline: Late May/Early June- Late August/Early September. Most internships average 12 weeks.

Deadline: end of January

Contact: ELI Staff

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of companies & 92% of interns report satisfaction with the EL experience 



SummerWorks is a summer internship program between June and September. The Youth WEX program provides flexible work experiences over the course of the school year. Both programs connect youth from diverse backgrounds to paid internships. The programs provide payroll and employer-of-record services to the employers they partner with, and job coaching and transportation assistance to the youth who enroll.

Youth Demographic: Underrepresented youth age 16-24

Cost: SummerWorks & Youth WEX Sponsorship is $3,250 per youth (includes 180 hours at minimum wage)

Duration: Minimum 180 hours total. Typically, 30 hours a week for 6 weeks, but schedules range between 20 hours and 40 hours a week.

Deadline: June 1st for SummerWorks, no deadline for Youth WEX (ongoing opportunities)

Contact: August Dao

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Connect2Careers is a way to ensure this region’s young people are prepared to meet the needs of employers. It matches appropriate candidates to available positions. With the support of the City of Portland and local businesses Connect2Careers establishes a platform for employers to access young, diverse local talent and help them build their essential workplace skills to succeed in the modern economy. 

  • Youth Demographic: Underrepresented youth age 16-24 

  • Cost: There is no program fee.  Connect2Careers is a direct hire program. The only cost to the business is the hourly rate of the employee. 

  • Duration: A company must employ the employee for at least 6 months to complete the Portland Means Progress commitment. 

  • Timeline: Ongoing year-round hiring opportunities.  

  • Deadline: none (ongoing opportunities) 

  • Contact:  August Dao

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of SummerWorks interns successfully completed their internships 


Company Internal Internship Programs

An established internal work experience or internship program may be eligible to meet this requirement.

If your existing program provides a paid work experience that is focused on communities of color or underserved populations, please contact us and provide your information so we can discuss in more detail.