It’s that time of year where the Colville Confederated Tribe hires a small group of college students to do an internship at a location of their choice.

On that note, I decided to sit down with Colville Tribal Higher Education College Administrator Kayce Palmer, as well as a few interns to ask them a few questions about the internship program.

What is the history behind the internship?

The College Intern Program’s history pre-dates the most recent inception in 2016.

The program is 100 percent tribally funded and provides the opportunity to hire up to 31 college students to participate in an internship program that provides authentic work experience within the tribal organization and its partners.

What is the intent of the program?

The ultimate goal is to provide a hands-on learning experience for college students to reinforce skills, theories and processes learned in their educational settings and are able to apply them on realistic projects that make an impact on the program and Tribes’ overall operations.

The hope is to foster an employment relationship and career pathway so that the students, when graduated, will return to the tribal workforce and be an asset ready to hit the ground running in their new position within the entity because they’ve already received exposure to internal processes and procedures.

How many interns does the internship currently have?

Currently, we have filled 9 of the 31 available positions, and there are an additional 3 incomplete applications. The College Internship positions are open for weekly review until filled.

This means that we will continuously accept new applications and hire students until we’ve met our maximum number of positions or the fiscal yearend nears.

What is the goal for interns?

Our goal is that the interns solidify the educational path that they’ve entered in; meaning either they’ve found their calling and working within that career field has concreted that notion or they’ve reached a newfound realization that putting the education to practice is finding themselves on an unfulfilling path and they utilize this internship experience as a catalyst for change in their degree and program direction so they later are pursuing a career that they’re passionate about and have the creative energy to make a positive impact for themselves, their family, and the tribes.

How is this helping the Tribe?

This initiative is helping the Tribes in generating a workforce wave of educated and experienced employees.

The Tribes are provided the opportunity to be able to foster specific characteristics and ideals in an upcoming workforce. This provides the chance to enhance work ethic, innovation, culture & language inclusion, operating with best practices and applying learned skills within their positions.

Are you working with students for college credit?

In years past the College Intern program co-operated with a Washington State University Anthropology course. We hold a very strong relationship with programs and faculty at WSU but this year we’re operating on the side of caution where COVID-19 is concerned.

We opted not to integrate a college course this year to avoid the coordination of weekly group gatherings for class and presentations. This was to eliminate the large groups and weekly susceptibility for multiple people. Our decision was also swayed by the cost and return for the anthropology course credit as the class itself is not widely applicable for all students it became questionable to pay tuition & fees for courses that weren’t going to be usable by the student and satisfy any of their graduation requirements.

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