Durham youth explore Duke Energy career opportunities

March 29, 2018

A group of Durham youth discovered a multitude of job possibilities March 28 during a visit to the Duke Energy operations center on Hillsborough Road, part of the Duke Energy Students@Work career preparation event.

Thirty-five students from Durham Public Schools’ Performance Learning Center, Durham Literacy Center, and Southern and Hillside high schools toured the facility, witnessed outdoor demonstrations of a cherry-picker, a giant drill and an electric car, and heard a wide range of speakers share their career journeys and discuss employment opportunities at Duke Energy.

“Jobs at Duke Energy are not just digging holes and climbing poles,” Duke Energy senior manager Greg Whitman told the students. “Duke Energy is the largest utility in the U.S. in terms of number of customers, which means there is every type of job, from linemen to lawyers, engineers, human resources, account managers, and energy efficiency experts. That means there are a lot of opportunities.”

Students@Work is an annual statewide effort to reach out to middle and high school students to expand their minds and broaden their thinking, said Duke Energy district manager Indira Everett.

Duke Energy Careers“This day is about learning more about Duke Energy corporate roles and about how this operations center operates,” Everett said. “It’s also about thinking differently about the role energy plays in your everyday life. How do you think your phone gets charged? And lastly, it’s about preparing for the workforce. You’ll be out of high school soon. What are you going to do next?”

Students attended break-out sessions where they spoke one-on-one with an energy-efficiency expert, two line technicians, an engineering supervisor and a government and community relations manager. Everett conducted a session dedicated to career readiness advice, encouraging students to form networks, seek out mentors, ask questions and own their career search.

“You can’t wait for other people to come hand you what you want,” said Everett. “It’s up to you to look for what you want, ask questions and fill out job applications.”

The event wrapped up with a question-and-answer session with Duke Energy vice president of engineering Tim Tripp and engineering supervisor Roxanne Bailey. Students were interested in everything from their professional responsibilities to their personal motivations.

Monyea Bullock, a senior at Performance Learning Center, said attending the event had been valuable for him.

“I am very interested in being a line technician and wanted to find out more about it. The line techs here today told me exactly what I need to do. And I found out it pays well and comes with full benefits,” said Bullock.

Durham Literacy Center student Christopher Couture came to find out more about careers at Duke Energy.

“I have two part-time jobs now, and I’d like to be able to roll my skill sets into one good full-time job with an opportunity for advancement, so wanted to see what Duke Energy had to offer,” said Couture.

Kacie Fletcher Fore, government and community relations manager for Duke Energy, said: “Duke Energy is trying to build a workforce for tomorrow. If students don’t know about the jobs we have, they can’t prepare and train for them. Helping them helps us, and that helps the whole community.”

Duke Energy is one of many Durham businesses, educational institutions, nonprofits and government agencies that work with Made in Durham to create an education-to-career system that improves the career and life opportunities for Durham youth, which builds a pipeline of talent that helps regional companies compete and grow. Duke Energy Foundation is a financial investor in the partnership.

For information about connecting jobs to Durham students, contact Made in Durham Employer Engagement Strategist Jacob Dolan at jdolan@madeindurham.org or (919) 215-5844.

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Made in Durham is a community partnership of educators, business, government, youth-serving nonprofits and young people mobilized around a shared vision that all of Durham’s youth will complete high school and a post-secondary credential and begin a rewarding career by the age of 25.
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