NEED loves creating opportunities for students to work with mentors to learn about exciting careers in energy.  In July, we piloted a new model program in two communities called “PG&E Career Exploration Week” and we’re delighted with the outcome.

A program for rising seniors at Edison High School in Fresno brought students to three different PG&E facilities where they learned from mentors about careers in engineering, planning and operations, customer care and service dispatching, fire prevention and much more. Their final day included an hour with their State Assemblyman, Dr. Joaquin Arambula, who graduated from their high school and supports research into hydrogen technology and the California High Speed Rail Project.

Templeton High School students in San Luis Obispo County worked with electrical lineworkers, service planners, and safety and firefighting specialists.  One day was filled with a tour of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant where they met with nuclear power trainers, cybersecurity experts, and the Diablo Canyon firefighting crew.  On their last day, students hiked with Senior Terrestrial Biologist Kelly Kephart over some of the 12,000 acres of Montana De Oro State Park.  Visits with students’ State Assemblymember Dawn Addis and US Congressman Jimmy Panetta were part of this week and students were grateful to learn how important legislation and policy are to our energy future.  Assemblymember Dawn Addis is working on a major offshore wind project at Morrow Bay.

Benefits include expanding career awareness by exposing students to a wide range of careers and pathways into these essential services. More than 60 mentors had a chance to give back to their communities while reflecting on the importance of the work they do. And, we’re helping to build a college and career-ready workforce to face the energy challenges before us.

Students reflected on their experiences at the end of their week of career exploration:
“I think that all teens should do something like this when looking for a career or pathway. I came into this week fully hooked on engineering but now I am overwhelmed with potential pathways. I have grown a great interest in PG&E and I’m 100% going to pursue a pathway with the company,” senior Cyrus Cook said of his time in the Los Padres region.

“I could write a book about how powerful it was to take students around to meet employees representing a broad range of backgrounds and careers. We had a great time each day taking students to see different divisions and workplaces and hear about employees’ career paths,” Barry Scott, NEED state program director, said.  “I hope we can replicate this model for other high schools in the sponsor’s service area later this year.”

On the turbine deck at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

Students visiting with electrical generation and distribution engineers.

Work with NEED wind energy kits was hands-on fun after tours.

Safety first, students climbed poles and went up in a bucket truck!

Author: Barry Scott,  NEED State Program Director, California