You’re fresh out of college or technical school. You need a job, or better yet a career. The only problem is most employers, especially if the job involves some level of skill, are looking for people with experience. For Jackie McGlin and Benji Gindt, internships with Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services (PPCS) in the summer of 2020 provided that experience leading to job offers.
McGlin was hired by PPCS as the marketing and communications intern. Her work with PPCS focused on developing content for its social media channels, creating informational pamphlets, photography, and some video work.
She was familiar with electric cooperatives from her internship the previous summer at UW-River Falls where she had the opportunity to assist with programs like Youth Leadership Congress.
McGlin graduated from UW-River Falls in May 2020 and was hoping to find full-time employment, but felt she needed to get more experience. “I was looking for more hands-on experience and that foot in the door,” said McGlin. “I wanted to put my degree to good use.”
She felt that she was accepted as a regular employee, rather than an intern. She was responsible for several projects. During her internship, she continued to seek full-time employment, focusing her job search on electric cooperatives in the Midwest.
Out of the blue, McGlin received an email from a cooperative in Indiana she had never heard of asking if she would be interested in interviewing for their communications specialist position. Their general manager found McGlin’s resume posted on Cooperative.com, the website of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
“Jackie’s internship with Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services was absolutely key to sparking my interest,” said Jane Bahler-Hurt, Daviess-Martin County REMC general manager. “She was our first and last interview for our communications specialist position.”
McGlin was offered the position and within a week was making plans to move to southern Indiana.
Benji Gindt joined PPCS as a summer intern in the operations department. Gindt graduated from Chippewa Valley Technical College in their electrical line worker program. He spent 1,000 hours with PPCS working in the field with our linemen and was hired by Jump River Electric Cooperative (JREC) in October 2020 as a 1,000-hour employee to assist their line workers. In January 2021, Gindt was hired full-time as an apprentice lineman. He will spend the next four years in a combination of classroom learning and on-the-job training to become a journeyman.
“We were impressed with Benji’s work ethic,” said Kurt Harris, JREC’s operations manager. “After his 1,000 hours, we offered him a job as an apprentice lineman. I feel these 1,000 hour internships are a great way for workers new to the field to gain valuable experience whether a full-time position is available after, or not.”
Gindt felt the time spent with PPCS helped him land both jobs with JREC. “I learned all kinds of things with PPCS,” said Gindt. “I think I learned more over the summer than I did at school.”
PPCS gained a lot from these internships, too. McGlin and Gindt both worked on projects that will give lasting value to the cooperative. “We were really pleased that Jackie and Benji found jobs with other cooperatives,” said Brad Ristow, PPCS vice president, operations. “It’s exactly what we hope will happen for our interns. They gain valuable experience while they are helping us during our busiest season and then have a foot in the door to find permanent positions.”
—Liz Gunderson, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services