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Summer Is Coming and so Is Gorge Works

by Kathy Ursprung

Hiring is almost complete for Gorge Works’ Summer 2019 season, set to kick off June 10.

“A few of our Host Employers are still in the hiring process, but a number of interns have already been finalized,” says Kathy Ursprung, Gorge Works project manager. “So far, our interns will be working in heavy equipment operation, water treatment, quality assurance, inventory, customer service, program management, mand manufacturing maintenance.”

Portrait of James Mejias
James Mejias

 This year’s hosts include Powder Pure, Oregon Cherry Growers, The Dalles Public Works, Waste Management, The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce, SDS Lumber, and Gorge Works itself.

James Mejias is Gorge Works’ intern. He was hired with the help of a grant from East Cascade Works, the workforce investment board. He will serve as Intern Coordinator and help with the transition from Port of The Dalles, its organizer, to The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce, its long-term operator.

James spotlights one of the differences between Gorge Works and other internship programs: Rather than a student looking to start a career, he is in a career transition. There is no requirement that applicants be attached to an educational program.

“My goals are to a have a good learning experience and to make connections with a lot of people,” James says, who moved here two years ago. “I haven’t branched out yet into meeting other young professionals.”

Gorge Works was organized as a result of discussion within the business community here and across the nation about the need for better prepared workers. Employers were finding it difficult to find employees with good basic work skills. We began exploring opportunities to improve that situation.

Oregon Works, a collaboration of McMinnville Economic Development Partnership and The Talent Council, provided training that allowed us to establish our own community-based internship program. Gorge Works is the result. The goal is not only to provide career-seekers with paid internship opportunities, but to provide them with professional training that can help enhance their skills.

Our goals for the program are:

  • To prepare career-seekers for the workforce.
  • To connect employers with viable job candidates.
  • To promote the employment opportunities available in the Columbia River Gorge.