Workforce Crisis: Intern Program Steers Students Into Utility Careers

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | October 2008 Vol. 63 No. 10

Interns at Water Distribution have worked in a crew environment maintaining and upgrading the system, i.e., water main repairs and adjustments; service line renewals, transfers and new installations; valve repairs, replacements and new cut ins; hydrant repairs, relocations, and new installations.

Water Pollution interns assist equipment mechanics on installation and alignment of pumps and motors, equipment lubrication and piping system assembly, said Hewitt. They also help with grounds maintenance including landscaping, snow removal and chain link fence repair. General maintenance tasks include door and window repairs, "household" plumbing repairs, small engine maintenance and tank/channel hosing and cleaning.

"Interns at Sewer Maintenance predominantly work in a crew environment," Hewitt said. "They are responsible for assisting crews repair and/or replace deteriorated sewer lines, sewer laterals, brick manholes, brick inlets and cleaning drainage structures.”

Win-win

"With the success of this program, we are starting to replenish our aging workforce with young enthusiastic employees eager to specialize in a utility career," Hewitt said.

"Ultimately, this program has been a win win win situation for the city of Akron, Akron Public Schools and the students. Interns are the future of the utility and ease the loss of institutional knowledge due to retirees.

"The program has spurred interest in the Akron Public School System and the students have gained valuable training to pursue a career in the utility field,” Hewitt concluded.

The intern program was developed by Brian Gresser, water pollution control administrator; Jim Hewitt, sewer maintenance superintendent; and Randall Monteith, who has retired from the city of Akron.