King County Metro is expanding our youth programs, creating new opportunities for young leaders to learn about public transportation and how mobility access impacts our local communities.

In August, King County Metro hosted its first community-specific high school youth internship program in the Skyway/Renton area. The program generated tremendous interest, with over 150 applications from young people eager to learn more about Metro and community advocacy. Twelve young leaders were selected to engage in this paid educational opportunity.

This first class of youth interns collaborated on digital social media projects, a community mural and went on unique field trips to get up-close perspectives on the diversity of transit careers available at Metro and beyond. The interns also participated in workshops related to sustainability, urban planning, and local government processes and got to engage in conversations with industry leaders and local and state elected officials.

Future leaders learning about transit and community

Throughout the program, the interns demonstrated their creativity, eagerness to learn, and passion for their community as they:

  • Launched their own social media account to promote transit riding to other young people
  • Designed and painted a new bus shelter mural with local artist Amaranta Sandys
  • Traveled to Metro’s South base to learn about Metro’s transition to a zero-emission bus fleet
  • Sailed on the King County Water Taxi and learned about maritime careers, and
  • Met with various leaders, elected officials, peer advocates, and professionals in transportation, urban planning, and related fields

This hands-on internship was designed to help motivate these youth leaders to try a variety of transportation choices and to become ambassadors for mobility options to their families and peers. The interns were also given tools to be informed community leaders and gain an understanding of the history of the policies and planning that shaped the environment and transportation systems of the Skyway area. Through participating in workshops about the history of redlining and urban planning and doing mock activities as Metro transportation planners and elected officials, they learned about the tradeoffs planners and local leaders must consider when planning transit service.

The internship taught me many things surrounding local government, job opportunities, and ways that I, as a youth can have an impact on my community and create change, so it was amazing to see how Metro has created change by being one of the first transit agencies to go electric.”

– Hannah, 2022 Metro Skyway Intern

The interns were able to exercise their skills and youth leadership through participating in a real-world community budgeting process with King County Department of Local Services to determine future community services and capital projects implemented in the Skyway community.

Metro’s Summer Youth Internship program visits the South Base Test Facility and Metro’s next-generation battery-electric buses

The opportunity to exercise creativity while exploring various public career pathways was an opportunity for students to get an amazing head start into their future. It was also an exciting way to connect more deeply with community issues and form bonds with peers while helping Metro encourage the use of sustainable mobility options for young people.

The innovative interns became influencers with their own Instagram account (@youth4metro) to share content to promote youth using transit and exploring public careers. Over the course of one week their posts garnered likes and shares, over 18,000 video views, and more than 150 followers, including several elected officials!

Metro staff who worked with the interns had the opportunity to hear from them the barriers that youth and our communities encounter when it comes to accessing and using public transportation. Programs like this give Metro the opportunity to empower young people to be multi-modal champions and do outreach to teach a wider audience the benefits of using public transportation.

Metro inspired to pursue for future internships

The success of this internship has inspired Metro to examine the potential of launching an annual summer high school internship program. The goal will be to inspire a new generation of youth leaders to learn more about transportation careers, mobility access, and the policies and decisions that shape our communities!

A special thanks to Jamie Stroble from Noio Pathways, the members of the King County Climate Equity Taskforce, partners at Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Metro General Manager Terry White, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, State Representative Kirsten Harris-Talley, Tukwila City Councilmember De’Sean Quinn, artist Amaranta Sandys, the King County Department of Local Services, and many others for contributing to making this special program possible.