By Cassie McClure
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 8/15/21
First jobs are always nerve-wracking, but internships are a great way to ease into a job experience with the patient support of those already skilled in a career. Through the Doña Ana County’s Summer Enrichment Internship Program (DAC), some interns got a chance to see how Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) reaches out to its customers.
Interns Michael Carrillo and Joel Gonzales had a chance to assist LCU Solid Waste with its educational initiatives.
“Michael and Joel are both outstanding and extremely helpful young men. Their willingness to help on a wide range of tasks has been quite impressive,” said Philip Glasson, LCU Solid Waste interim residential supervisor. “They helped distribute educational bags to residents of a trailer park to help improve a cleaner and more efficient collection of customer solid waste.’”
Paid, real-life job experience internships for area high schools in Doña Ana County are funded by a 1.2-million-dollar grant awarded by the New Mexico Public Education Department’s College and Career Readiness Bureau. The program provided 520 students an opportunity to enhance a college or job application. LCU had 23 students in various department lines of business.
“The DAC program fits perfectly into the mission that LCU has to expand its own workforce by training students who may want to investigate their opportunities in the trades,” said Delilah Walsh, LCU director. “We reach out to area high schools to inform them about how to get college credit while gaining trade experience through our own internship program. The DAC program gives special access to younger students to look at how they can grow their careers while staying in their own community.”
The LCU Internship Program is a competitive program that awards internships to new incoming or current full-time students pursuing an Associate Degree in Water Technology at the New Mexico State University Doña Ana Community College. LCU held an official sign on ceremony for two new interns, Irvin Villa and Gerardo Carrasco on August 10, 2021.
The LCU Internship 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 four to eight years with LCU after graduation. The intern graduates will work in one of the following lines of business: Water Operations and Maintenance, Wastewater Operations and Maintenance, or Utilities Environmental.
In contrast, the DAC program was focused on entry level skills across the county -- placements at locations such local governments, school districts, nonprofit agencies, and area businesses near where they live. For six weeks, students worked up to 20 hours per week and were paid $10.50 per hour.
“I was thankful to have the opportunity to work with these two DAC interns,” Glasson said. “This intern program not only benefits the young interns but also it does wonders for our department and the future of Utilities.”
LCU Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: Left to right, DAC Interns Michael Carrillo and Joel Gonzales as they delivered educational material to LCU customers in Las Cruces.