Innovative Paid Internship Program Develops the Workforce of the Future
Participants gain experience and learn skills to better serve customers
November 15, 2021 – Rowland Water District has partnered with a community college and a vocational school on an inventive educational training that provides full-time experience while developing a much-needed pipeline for qualified employees.
Students participate in a six-month paid internship with the District, training with some of the most highly respected industry leaders in Southern California. Interns receive hands-on, real-life work experience in multiple departments, including meter reading, operations, maintenance, and as Field Customer Service Representatives, gaining insight and skills needed to start a career within the water utility industry.
The Career and Technical Education Center, a program at the non-profit The Learning Centers at Fairplex in Pomona, collaborated with Rowland Water District to create the internship program. It later expanded to include Santiago Canyon College in the City of Orange. The partnership ensures students receive solid classroom instruction that they can put to practical use in a real-world environment.
“Interns who may have water industry certifications gain practical field experience and those who are just starting get a taste of the many opportunities available in the field,” said Rowland Water District General Manager Tom Coleman. “This allows us to create a career path for new employees and develop future leaders in water service.”
Rowland Water District utilizes the internships as part of a larger effort to build a qualified workforce and address the “silver tsunami” of experienced baby boomers expected to retire in the coming years. The District’s Career Pathways program helps students discover employment opportunities and learn about the importance of providing a fundamental resource to the community. Free webinars in the spring and fall focus on employees sharing their work experiences and encouraging people to explore careers in the water utility industry.
At the California Association of Mutual Water Companies annual meeting in October, Coleman participated in a roundtable discussion about Rowland Water District’s internships. Of the 33 participants, 82% completed the program, and 52% found full-time employment at the District or elsewhere in the water industry.
“We’re proud to say we’ve been able to hire several of these highly qualified interns who are ready to step in and start serving our customers from day one on the job,” said Dusty Moisio, Director of Operations. “This gives us an opportunity to improve the talent pool and help other agencies when they are hiring.”
Travis Noelte, a former participant in RWD’s Career Pathways program and now a current employee of the District notes, “Until my internship at Rowland Water District, I had no idea how rewarding this work is or that I could even find a career in the water industry.”
Internship openings are posted under the Career Opportunities section of the District’s website, www.rowlandwater.com, as they become available.