Investing in students' lives during a global pandemic

Today is National Intern Day! Over the years, we’ve invested in hundreds of young professionals, including some who found rewarding careers at CPS Energy.

Every summer, our team members look forward to cultivating high school and college students through our various internship programs. When the COVID-19 global pandemic hit, we had to cancel our traditional in-person internships. However, enriching the lives of young professionals in our community was too important to put on hold.

Our Corporate Responsibility staff decided to host a series of learning experiences virtually. Candidates of our 2020 summer internship program are getting an opportunity to enjoy insightful, engaging sessions with our executives, industry subject matter experts and local leaders.

“Going virtual has allowed us to stay connected to the community, provide learning opportunities, engage in meaningful conversations with students and discover what their topics of interest are,” said Cristina Duarte, CPS Energy’s Manager of Education & Mentoring Programs. “After this last session, we realized we were able to provide virtual learning opportunities to all high school and college students. Geography is no longer a barrier.”

Recently, we hosted our second Virtual Summer Education Series via Webex for 145 students. Students got a chance to learn from our senior leaders and ask them questions.

The morning started with a panel discussion about CPS Energy’s management of the effect of COVID-19 on workforce safety and positive customer experience with Paula Gold-Williams, President & CEO, Rudy Garza, Chief Customer Engagement Officer, and Janie Gonzalez, President & CEO of Webhead and a CPS Energy Board of Trustee member. Each leader provided their insight and perspective on the pandemic’s impact on our workforce and community, and how we’ve continued to serve and care for our customers during an unprecedented time.

Rudy expressed how proud he was of team members like our Energy Advisors who are taking calls and providing top-notch customer service from their own homes as they work remotely.

People First Resilience: Energy Advisors go extra mile to help customers from home

He also applauded field employees who continue to work healthy and safe in the community wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart. 

“I’m really proud of the work our employees have done to pivot.”

Rudy went on to share a perspective he learned from Paula that’s relevant for the time. “We’re not walking a road that’s built. We’re building the road as we go. There’s no playbook.”

The afternoon included discussions with several team members about what CPS Energy does behind the scenes and why customers should care, and a talk about leadership development. Several groups of students teamed up to take part in a Cyber Escape activity hosted by our Integrated Security team. Students learned and applied cybersecurity awareness principles to unlock clues and find a way out of the virtual room.

Team members from our Integrated Security team host students for a Cyber Escape activity on Webex.

The education series was designed to spark more interest in students who would like to pursue rewarding careers at our company or in the utility industry. Students like Sonia Lopez, who had applied for an in-person internship, enjoyed the virtual learning experience.

“These sessions gave me insight on how much CPS Energy cares about its employees, community, and customers with how efficiently and quickly they responded to the pandemic,” said Sonia, who is studying mechanical engineering at UT Austin. “I also found the statement, ‘a great leader is a great listener’ really impactful to me. I don’t think I’ve ever heard leaders being described as listeners.”

Students who applied for in-person internships at CPS Energy were invited to attend along with interns from partner organizations like SA Works, H.E.B., Alamo Academies, Itron, Toyota, San Antonio Water System (SAWS), and the City of San Antonio. All students who attend and complete the sessions will receive a certificate of completion for their efforts.

Are you a high school or college student, or know someone who could benefit from attending? Join local students, CPS Energy team members and executives for the final Virtual Summer Education Summer Series event on Thursday, Aug. 13. Click the image below to learn more and sign up by Wednesday, Aug. 12.

(Image) Poster calling all high school & college students. August 13. CPS Energy's virtual summer education series.

Sam Taylor

Sam is part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.