Career paths become clearer through Boeing Fabrication internship program

21 students get hands-on experience

October 30, 2015 in Our Commitment

Gordon Litzenberger from Boeing’s 737 Supplier Readiness organization takes interns on a tour of the Renton 737 facility.

Jessica Oyanagi photo

Boeing is investing in our region’s future economic health and helping to grow a talent pipeline through outreach programs and internships for high school students.

As part of the third-annual Boeing Fabrication Internship program, 21 high school students from seven school districts across Puget Sound recently got hands-on work experience at Boeing.

The paid interns worked full-time at four different sites: Auburn, Frederickson, Tukwila and Everett. They started their internship with a two-week training, afterwards, they were assigned work areas where they were each paired up with at least two Boeing mentors who stay with the students even if they are no longer with the company. The six week program gave the students experience in topics ranging from safety awareness to manufacturing, engineering processes and quality.

The innovative program is one way Fabrication recruits and trains future employees, says Jennifer Long, the internship project manager. “This is a long-term investment for future employees,” says Long.

Washington STEM, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting STEM education, estimates that in the next four years 45,000 future jobs requiring STEM credentials could go unfilled in the Puget Sound area because there aren’t enough people qualified to take them. There are currently 25,000 unfilled jobs in Washington due to lack of qualified candidates, 80 percent of which are STEM-related jobs, the group says.

“This is life-changing for these kids,” said Michelle Thomassian, a career specialist at Highline Public Schools, which has three students participating in the program. During a recent tour of the Renton factory all of the interns expressed an interest in pursuing careers at Boeing.

17 year old Cooper Williams, a senior at Puyallup High School agrees. He worked at both the Auburn and Frederickson sites and said, “This will help me get a foot in the door at Boeing and help me achieve my goal of being a mechanical engineer.”

“The opportunity was well beyond what we were expecting out of this program,” said Cooper’s mother, Tracy Williams, who, with her husband, Craig, joined Cooper, on the recent Renton factory tour. “This has been an eye-opening experience for him.”

Demand among students for the intern positions is extremely competitive. At a minimum, students are required to have a 3.0 grade point average, excellent attendance, strong communication skills, personal discipline, productivity, teamwork, personal ethics, punctuality, interest and strong enthusiasm. Teachers, counselors and school administrators participate in the selection process.

The Fabrication internship program is one of a variety of ways Boeing is working with high schools to help create career opportunities.

By Cris McHugh and Karen West