MTC celebrated the completion of the 18th year of its summer high school internship program with a showcase on August 10, 2018, at the Bay Area Metro Center. The students worked in agencies across the Bay Area’s nine counties this summer, with placement and funding provided by MTC. This year’s class of 34 interns worked in 28 agencies throughout the region, including city and county offices, local transit authorities, congestion management agencies, and regional agencies like the Air District.
The internship program was created in 2000 to expose students who would not typically consider careers in the field of transportation — especially women and minorities — to the many types of jobs available in the field. It has become quite prestigious in the 18 years since its inception, with “hundreds and hundreds of applicants” competing for the available paid internship positions, said Ann Macaulay, MTC’s Human Resources recruiting manager.
The students were split into seven teams based on geography, and they worked together over the summer to prepare their presentations. At the August showcase, they showed off their work to their fellow students and mentors, including their creative team names and self-designed team logos.
Brad Paul, MTC’s deputy executive director for local government services, kicked off the day with a speech about how presentations are a critical skill for the workplace, helping leaders to make decisions, explain decisions to others and solicit input in all professional contexts. He also told the students about his own experiences interning in his youth. “Internships help you learn about yourself and your likes and dislikes in the workplace,” he explained.
Through PowerPoint, Prezi and Google Slides presentations, the students talked about skills they gained over the summer, including time management, stakeholder research, data collection, AutoCad, Google Earth Pro, advanced software development including Python scripts, community engagement, and youth outreach.
Hannah Cohen-Sandler, who is going into her junior year at Maria Carrillo High School in Santa Rosa, worked in the engineering department at the city of Cloverdale this summer. She helped to research and revise building codes and standards, in addition to learning AutoCAD and helping with inspections. “It was really interesting to see a normal day in the field,” she said of her internship, which was her first workplace experience.
Other projects that the students worked on included AC Transit’s Bus Rapid Transit initiative, Tri Delta Transit’s new electric buses, San Francisco’s new Salesforce Transit Center, grant applications, public health campaigns, street shoulder inventories, bus station inspections, light-rail safety programs, student transit ticket programs and city traffic engineering.
Anna Qiu, a rising senior at Terra Linda High, is currently applying to college and is interested in studying in the STEM fields. She interned at the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM), which was her first paid job, though she has done volunteer work. She was happy to gain office experience and people skills as she worked on TAM’s Measure A public information campaign and improvements related to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Charlie Nguyen, who is headed to De Anza Community College to major in environmental science after graduating from Wilcox High in Santa Clara this spring, created a curriculum for youth safety for the Santa Clara Public Health Department this summer. She wrestles and plays volleyball, and the spirit of teamwork and sportsmanship was clear in her words to her fellow interns and graduating seniors: “Branch out and try to get out of your shell. Ask questions, and make connections,” she advised.
Connections between students and mentors, and new friendships among the students, were clear as the top teams of the day received their prizes and all the students posed together for a final group photo before returning to their home cities.