Port businesses interested in exploring internships or project work for students are encouraged to connect with the Kalama School District

Did you know that businesses at the Port of Kalama employ more than 1,200 people? When you drive by the Port you may not see a lot of people or corporate neon signs, but Port of Kalama businesses combine to create a formidable employment community in Cowlitz County.

From family-owned ventures to Fortune 500 companies, there are over 30 industries conducting global business and commerce including import/export, manufacturing, marketing, welding and fabrication, steel manufacturing, recycling, trucking and myriad other commercial and industrial enterprises. They choose Kalama for its ideal location in the heart of the Pacific Northwest and proximity to highway, railroad and the Columbia River.

The annual Kalama Career Fair offers students a program to learn about the companies in Kalama and throughout Cowlitz County, the wide range of careers available here, the skill sets required, and the pathway to obtaining those jobs. The event, which is organized like a trade show with booths and spokespeople, invites local businesses to participate and share tips on what students should be thinking about and learning in order to secure their job and career path.

Now, as an extension of that career learning, the Port of Kalama is working with the faculty of Kalama Schools to engage the business community in quality internships for students. The key is offering real world experience and activities that will further the career education for Kalama high school students.

“We are eager to create real partnerships with Port of Kalama businesses to create a successful program that offers experiential on-the-job learning to our students,” says Cory Torppa, Career and Education Director at the Kalama School District. “We have been visiting businesses to explore opportunities to create these powerful connections and real-world experience for our students—we invite any business who is willing to create an intern position or offer projects for students to support their business.”

One Port business partner and Career Fair participant is Rob Rich, vice president of marine services at Shaver Transportation, a company that offers Port of Kalama businesses a tug and barge assistance service for ships, inland grain and bulk commodity transportation, and harbor/marine services. Rich, has participated in all Kalama Career Fairs and delights in helping students understand the business, career and job options available right here on the river.

“I want students to know what is expected of them when they seek a job—they need a high school education, they need to demonstrate that they are capable of learning and that they can take direction,” says Rich. “And I’d encourage other Port businesses to join us—it’s so important to reach out to these kids while they are in high school to offer them job exposure and help them to discover their passion. It’s the best time to help them along their life career path.”

Local businesses interested in exploring on-the-job opportunities and internships for students, should call 360-673-5212 or email Cory Torppa, Career and Technical Education Director at the Kalama School District, cory.torppa@kalama.k12.wa.us.

“We have a strong commitment to our community—we exist to create economic opportunity for our region, now and into the future,” says Mark Wilson, executive director at the Port of Kalama and a collaborative partner of the Kalama Career Fair. “It is important for us to help create a balanced opportunity for students to learn about a range of careers and business opportunities—we are encouraging any Port businesses who may have jobs or projects for local interns to offer our kids an invaluable learning opportunity.”