Providing real-world experience
By Vern Hee
Valley Electric Association believes in the youth in our community and invests in their future. One of the ways VEA shows support for the youth is through VEA’s Student Internship Program.
“The internship program is one of the best programs that Valley Electric has,” says Ryan Muccio VEA Community Relations Representative, who assists with the program. “It‘s one of my favorite things I do every day.”
VEA hires new interns every three months. “They have proven that our world is in good hands,” says Ryan. “These youths are on it. Every single day they come in and they are happy and ready to work. They are up for the challenge.”
Cassandra Selbach, VEA Chief Evangelist, is in charge of the internship program. She revamped the program shortly after joining VEA in 2014 with the goal of providing a well-rounded experience that would support these youngsters in their professional and personal development.
“We have three months to leave a mark,” Cassandra says. “As VEA has evolved, our approach to the next generation has evolved also. It’s not about the three months they are here. It’s about the rest of their lives beyond their internship.”
Cassandra says the new approach changed everything. VEA employees have become mentors, not task-givers.
“We see this as an opportunity to plant seeds of greatness into each young person that walks through these hallways and to help guide them as they move on to ‘the rest of their lives,’ ” Cassandra says.
As interns consider their path of the future, they are exposed to multiple disciplines at the Cooperative – from customer service, to engineering, to marketing and communications, and everything in between. They are given opportunities to participate in team building and critical thinking.
An intern’s responsibilities are determined by their immediate supervisors in the departments in which they are stationed, Ryan says. “For instance, the interns placed in customer service work on tasks that the customer service supervisors assign to them. The same for mapping/engineering.”
The interns garner additional experience as they are pulled from those stations to participate in other activities throughout the company.
“One of the neat opportunities we have is that we have been where they are,” says Cassandra. “We are familiar with the world that interns are just starting to explore. That gives us the unique ability to see things in them that they have not yet discovered about themselves: strengths, weaknesses, and incredible potential.”
VEA also recognizes that student internships can be an important part of the organization’s recruitment strategy and help achieve organizational business objectives, while also providing an opportunity for students to receive valuable mentoring that will have a lifelong impact.
“Since 2015, we have hired three full-time employees straight out of the internship program,” Ryan says.
“It just proves there is opportunity in Pahrump if you work for it.”
The program is designed to offer students real-world experience in the workplace and to help prepare them for their future.
VEA Supervisor of Lands Joshua Drellack said he wants Alyssa Seifert to think about a career in mapping.
“Alyssa has a young brilliant mind with unlimited potential,” he said. “In fact due to her amazing potential and professionalism I have recommended to the VEA Manager of Engineering to establish a Geographic Information Systems Apprenticeship Program that will Develop Alyssa’s interest in a GIS career.
Alyssa she learned a lot about mapping during her internship.
“I learned about the GIS software in a few weeks and have managed to learn to use it through on the job training,” she said. “I feel I have learned how to use GIS in an effective way and It will help me with my future by giving me experience in this area.”
Shaylen Morales says that during the internship she learned to work closely with others.
“We worked constantly with new individuals,” Shaylen said. “This allowed me to improve my public speaking and confidence. We also learned a lot of new office skills.”
Noemi Diaz, a current VEA intern, says she thinks she has worked in every department.
“I think I have seen all of them,” Noemi says. “We even did some paper work with the fleet department (the department that repairs the trucks). You name it and we have been there.”
As far as work for the interns, Ryan says these interns are not just getting busy work.
“They are excited and up for a challenge,” Ryan explained. “You almost forget they are interns. It has happened to me a couple of times where I had to catch myself and say they are only 17 and 18 years old. It is hard at times because they carry themselves with such professionalism and excellence.”
DeAnna Greene, VEA Customer Service Supervisor says she really enjoys working with the interns. “They are a joy to work with and they are more than willing to help out,” DeAnna says. “They are some of the fastest workers … friendly, professional and always in a good mood.”
Photos by Jeff Scheid
For more information on the internship program call the main number at 775-727-5312.