Alexis Sorm, a rising senior at Raisbeck Aviation High School, participated in the Port's Spring Youth Ambassador program and summer internship program. High school interns have spent the past eight weeks learning about Port industries and jobs through individual research and networking with employees across the organization. Interns were asked to create a tool that informs the public on careers in Port-related industries. This project allowed them to build on skills such as project management, public speaking, networking, researching, and working in groups. With a lot of collaboration, the interns will be sharing their knowledge with other youth through a "choose your own adventure" career exploration tool that will be available on the Port's website in early September. As the interns wrap up their time at the Port, we checked in with Alexis to hear about her experience this summer.
How did you hear about the Port's summer internship program?
I have had the honor of being a part of a volunteer program called the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps for the last two years now. We’re an environmental youth group based in South Park and we focus on a lot of the messages that the Port aims to deliver, actually. My leader there—Carmen Martinez—is such an amazing woman and always ensures that the youth are always aware of new opportunities, whether that be in volunteering, programs, internship, jobs—you name it!
She introduced me to someone from the Port who was looking to hire for a high school internship role in the Spring, and so this summer is actually my second time working at the Port.
What were you most excited for to be interning at the Port?
I feel as though I’m relatively adept with most of my soft skills and so I suppose that I was looking for some more experience with a company that was quite professional but still comfortable and relaxing, so that I could be in a real work setting but not be as stressed or afraid as I would have been with a “real job.”
I was also looking forward to meeting new people and building friendships with my peers and networking with other Port employees, since I realize that as long as I’m here, I could also get more joy out of my job as well.
What project are you working on this summer?
This summer, the other high school interns and I have been working on developing a portal to essentially create a gateway for the current and future youth to learn more about the Port and the jobs that they have to offer. We included all sorts of different sectors and job titles offered at the Port into this slide deck so that it’s much easier for them to navigate careers based on their own skills and interests.
For the bulk of it, I would like to think that my role this summer has really been just trying keeping my group in check with all of our data and helping them settle their ideas and thoughts with my organization skills. They offer their ideas and content through creative thinking and I help arrange/format it into a visual portrayal so that it’s cohesive enough to present. It truly is a team effort.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you have been working from home. How has the virtual experience been for you?
It was quite hard to pick up work and other opportunities for volunteering—this, I understand, has been true for most people. Being able to work from home (as the Port has also assisted us in being able to do that) has been extremely helpful, as now we are all able to have regular meetings with each other, see the faces of one another, and work with people who we might not otherwise get to work with (there are high school interns from both near and far from the Port region, and so being able to work online makes it easier for the people who work farther away to meet up with us virtually and stay on track with work).
For the most part, I feel as though COVID has not really affected my team’s work ethic or productivity too much. It definitely has given lots of leeway to be flexible in our own schedules and work when we’re most able to; for the most part, this has proven to be quite effective, actually, as we have always gotten work done on time and effectively. My managers and project lead have been far more than welcoming and helpful throughout this entire process, I can’t even put it into words. For every meeting, they provide a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere where we are able to joke around and talk amongst one another; however, at the same time, they are also stern enough to the point where we as high school interns clearly understand the goals and expectations given to us. They are all also quite timely with messages and emails, and for every question or concern we have, they will always be willing to help us find an answer or solution, even if they may not have one right away.
As mentioned before, I like how inclusive working virtually is residency-wise. There are some coworkers that I have made friendships with and that I love working with, that I most likely would not have been able to even meet if it were not for the fact that working virtually does not require you to be in one certain location at all times. I also like how working online allows us interns to have more reign and flexibility over our own schedules, and so if one of us has missed a Monday meeting due to personal reasons, we are still able to catch up or make up our hours (just at a different time that day) since all our work is saved in team documents and folders.
What is the most surprising thing about working at the Port?
In all honesty, I was most surprised about the atmosphere I’ve witnessed around the Port employees and community just as a whole. Growing up, it’s always shown in shows or media how harsh or cutthroat some industries or companies can be, and so just seeing how kind and genuine the employees here were—about their jobs, future aspirations, love for the Port, admiration for the current youth—was such a huge breath of fresh air and pleasant surprise. I couldn’t have asked for anything better, really.
How has interning at the Port impacted you?
Through my experiences over the last few months, I will genuinely be able to take with me some newly formed friendships and personal life advice from the Port employees that have been developed and given through these last few months. This internship has consisted of a lot of outreaching/networking with other people and just overall working fluently with our team, and so it’s pretty hard not to make connections with other people and take their advice to heart at times.
What else have you been doing this summer besides interning at the Port?
This summer I’ve been mainly focusing on trying to get my schedule figured out for my last year in high school, preparing for college, and keeping up with my extracurriculars as much as I’m able to. Recently I’ve joined classes for traditional Cambodian dance and a volunteer program for tutoring younger students, but I’ve also been in a different Cambodian youth group since the beginning of summer.
What do you look forward to?
I look forward to applying all of the knowledge and advice I’ve received over the last few weeks and hopefully be able to change or help someone else’s life. Being in high school myself, I have many friends and even some family members that are confused on where they are headed in life, and I feel as though there are a few words I can give or a few directions I can point them in, to hopefully renew their perspectives just like how mine was this summer.