FOLEY, AL – Eighteen rising seniors from Baldwin County high schools will spend their summer at Daphne Utilities, Gulf Shores Utilities, North Baldwin Utilities, or Riviera Utilities gaining real-world experience—and earning a paycheck—as part of the Summer Utility Internship Program (SUIT).
“Working closely with our partners at the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Commission (SAWDC) and Baldwin County Board of Education, we (Riviera) launched the pilot program in 2021, and it was a big success,” Sharon Cureton, PhD, Administration Manager at Riviera Utilities said. “One of the 13 interns stayed on after the program ended to work part-time as an engineering tech in our Electric Department. We also have plans to hire two of the 2021 interns this summer as full time employees – a grounds worker and a gas operator.”
This year, Riviera, BCBE and SAWDC are joined by Daphne Utilities, Gulf Shores Utilities, and North Baldwin Utility in the SUIT program. Riviera will have 10 interns, Gulf Shores and North Baldwin Utility will each have three, and Daphne Utilities will have two.
The inaugural SUIT program at Riviera was selected as a “regional best practice” in the Governor’s Work-Based Learning Seal of Excellence awards. Riviera was also asked to present the program at the Governor’s Work-Based Learning Summit. The organizers stated, “You are leading a program that is a key to success in strengthening our talent pipelines and ensuring that your participants are on paths to good jobs and promising careers.”
Lisa Yokley, human resources/marketing manager at North Baldwin Utility, said NBU was excited to partner with the neighboring utilities and the Board of Education for the SUIT program.
“Together, we hope to prepare students for their futures while highlighting career opportunities in infrastructure,” Yokley said. “These fields require intelligent and loyal employees dedicated to providing top-notch services. A community-driven and supported organization, we are proud of our Board of Education for its continued efforts to connect education and local industry. It is easy to see why our county continues to flourish.”
According to Samantha Coppels, communications manager at Daphne Utilities, the two interns working in Daphne will work in various operation departments, including in Water Distribution, Water Quality, Line Location, Warehouse, Wastewater Collections, GIS and our Water Reclamation Facility.
“We are so excited to participate in the SUIT program this year,” Coppels said. “Our goal is to bring interest to the utility industry and expose the students to all the different career paths that we offer, hoping one day they would want to join our team!”
Bridget Wilson, executive director of SAWDC, announced that the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System (MAWSS) was pursuing a summer intern program for 2023, and the Monroe County Board of Education launched an internship program this summer, both modeled after the program at Riviera in 2021.
The interns at each of the utility providers will complete safety training and orientation, and work alongside their supervisor and other employees. Each student will also be assigned a mentor. The students will work 40 hours per week from June 6 to August 5.