By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
The first two interns for Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) have had a busy year - and not just at work. Bryan Eakins is a new father and Errol Lockett is a new husband. Now, they also have a path for a career to provide stability for these new roles.
Both started their internships one year ago in maintenance at Jacob Hands Wastewater Treatment Facility (JHWWTF); Lockett is now in the water production subsection, and rides along with operators to 52 water wells to test the water and check security. He also takes classes at Doña Ana Community College. It’s all paid for by the City of Las Cruces Utilities Department.
“It’s been amazing to see how much knowledge the operators have in their heads, things that I’m now learning from books, they all just know,” said Lockett. He’s also been able to find out more about himself, like his affinity for the science behind wastewater management, figuring out that his skills and personality lean toward that one branch of LCU.
LCU, Water Deputy Director, Adrienne L. Widmer, P.E., explains the focus of the program to give the interns a complete look at what working for LCU could look like. The end goal is to provide good jobs for Las Cruces residents, as part of the LCU workforce.
“There are so many options of different career paths within utilities, from operators maintaining the daily function of wells throughout the city to continual testing within our water laboratory,” Widmer said. “If we can give them exposure to different tasks during their internship, it's beneficial to both them and the City if they can find out what will suit their interests and skills best.”
LCU is looking for new interns to apply by May 31st. The LCU Internship Program is for students wishing to, or who currently are, pursuing an Associate Degree in Water Technology. LCU pays for tuition and other reasonable education-related expenses, including a monthly stipend and paid on-the-job training to assist with educational and living expenses. That’s in exchange for up to 20 hours of work per week during semesters and 40 hours per week maximum during academic breaks.
In return, interns commit to working 2- to 8-years with the City of Las Cruces in the Water Section, Wastewater Section, or the Water Quality Laboratory (WQL) subsection after graduation.
While attending classes, Eakins has been exposed to several different jobs at the JHWWTF and is currently working in the WQL, testing wastewater. “We’re able to get a diverse set of skills through our internship,” said Eakins. “It’s really been the chance of a lifetime.”
If you or someone you know might be interested in applying for an LCU internship, head to: http://www.las-cruces.org/departments/utilities/internship. Applications are due by May 31st.
You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: Bryan Eakins tests wastewater samples at JHWWTF. He is one of the interns at LCU learning all things water and wastewater. If you are interested in joining LCU while attending school, apply now. The application submittal process closes May 31st.