A new internship program will provide a pathway to employment for Columbus high schoolers while providing AEP Ohio’s Distribution Dispatch Center (DDC) with a pipeline for young, skilled talent.
In late February, 66 high school juniors (studying Information Technology at Columbus Downtown High School) visited AEP Ohio’s headquarters in Gahanna. The students learned about the new program, toured the DDC – the “nerve center” for all routing, mapping and monitoring of our circuits – and heard from employees about what their jobs are like.
Following a competitive interview process, two candidates will earn a 40-week paid summer internship. They will work arm-in-arm with a “trouble dispatcher” relaying important information to the frontline employees who perform work across our service territory. At the end of summer, the students will continue working two to three four-hour shifts weekly throughout the 2023-2024 school year. At end of the yearlong program, the students will have the experience required to be hired as a full-time dispatcher – a job role that typically requires a two-year degree in electrical engineering or engineering technology.
According to Nate Bronder, who manages the DDC, the internship program is mutually beneficial for AEP Ohio and young jobseekers.
“The market for college graduates with a two-year degree is getting more and more competitive. We believe there’s an opportunity to bring on high-quality candidates, even if they don’t have a degree,” Bronder said. “By the time these interns have been working side by side with a dispatcher for a year, they will have the necessary experience. And when they’re hired they will be ready to work by themselves, or very close to it.”
Bronder says this is part of an effort to educate more young people about the many job opportunities available at AEP. If it’s successful, he expects the internship program to continue beyond this year.
“It’s an attractive opportunity for these students to gain real-time, real job experience for a specific role,” he said. “I see no reason why we can’t have at least two qualified applicants – maybe more – every year.”
Interviews are being held in March and the two interns will picked by early May.
Published March 3, 2023