Water utilities regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission continually strive to lead the way in delivering high-quality, reliable water to Californians. Cultivating future water industry leaders is one essential way to ensure this continues to be the case. By reaching out to students to lend their curiosity, talent, and innovation to the industry, regulated water utilities are discovering new solutions and ways of thinking about water and sustainability.
Liberty Utilities (Liberty) is one of many California Water Association members actively reaching out to cultivate future leaders. For six weeks this past summer, Liberty hosted two high school interns from Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District. With an interest in pursuing engineering careers, interns Christian and Evelyn spent a week with Liberty’s major department employees to learn about the water industry. At the end of the internship, the two shared what they had learned, liked best, and what they would change.
After exploring Liberty’s geographic information system, Christian said he may change his major because he loved the program so much. Evelyn was intrigued to learn about the various career paths she can take within the water industry. Liberty team members were as excited to host the interns as the interns were to learn about Liberty.
California Water Service (Cal Water) recently held its first “Water 2.0” career day in San Jose, which attracted nearly 200 San Jose Unified School District high school students. They learned about the ins and outs of the evolving water industry as well as the various career options in chemical engineering, emergency preparedness, information technology, environmental science, accounting, human resources, customer service, and technical fields.
In an op-ed published in San Jose Inside, Cal Water President and CEO Martin A. Kropelnicki said, “We need more students, entrepreneurs, and seasoned professionals to lend their curiosity, talent, and expertise to be part of the answer for new solutions and ways of thinking about water and sustainability. Those seeking a position in the field will enjoy competitive wages, job security in a stable industry, and the chance for upward mobility.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo attended the event and presented 20 Cal Water scholarships to students signing up for a water utility training course. Cal Water also offers a scholarship program to assist students residing within its service areas with their college or vocational education programs.
San Jose Water Company (SJWC) also provides scholarships for students interested in the water industry. A blog about SJWC’s internship program features the stories of several esteemed individuals who elected to continue their careers with SJWC after completing internships.
SJWC current Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations John Tang, who served as a student engineer intern in October 1990, said, “Many of the people hiring interns used to be interns themselves; they understand that relationship and are committed to helping interns succeed.”
Suburban Water Systems’ (Suburban) staff works hard to inspire youth in the communities served by the utility to ensure young people are aware of career options in the water industry. One way of accomplishing that outreach is by making presentations at local schools about Suburban and its various departments.
Representatives speak about their jobs and experiences at Suburban as well as the college coursework that prepared them for their careers. Hearing different perspectives helps students relate to the myriad possibilities they can pursue at Suburban in areas such as engineering, administration, human resources, communications, customer service, public affairs, laboratory and water science, operations, maintenance, and more.