Meet Asia, an intern with college on the mind

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DTE Energy will hire about 850 student interns to work at the company this year — and about 500 of those high school and college students are working at the company this summer.

One of them is Asia Harris, 18.

Asia is part of DTE’s newest student hiring initiative called the Summer Youth Program. That program started in June, with the goal of hiring students from Detroit Public Schools Community District. DTE hired about 60 students for that program, with half working in skilled trades positions and the other half in office/professional settings.

We sat down with Asia, who is working in skilled trades, to talk about her summer and what’s she’s learned so far:

Where you are from?

I grew up in Detroit and now I live in Southfield. I just graduated from Cody (Technical High School in Detroit).

How’s that been?

It is not how I expected it to be. The transition from high school to adult life is difficult sometimes, but I’ve experienced a lot and am getting through it.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

I don’t know if you call talking on the phone a hobby, but I love talking on the phone.

What have you been doing this summer?

At first I was in an office setting, but I wanted to give the field a try. I had the opportunity and I’m never one to say no to an opportunity. So, I’ve been working in Electric Field Operations in Warren, shadowing employees and learning how they do their day-to-day jobs: the meetings they go to, the Monday-morning huddle where they talk about the certain things they need to pin point and accomplish.

Have you done anything that sticks out?

I learned how to build an electric meter, an AMI — that was really cool and interesting. I’ve also learned that out in the field, it’s hot, but it is worth it. I prefer it better than being in the office. It’s an opportunity to see my own city and see places I’ve never been before. It has been an amazing experience. Some of the people I work with in the field, they know the city well and they tell me the history of some of the areas, the history of the city.

What else have you learned from the other people you’ve worked with?

No matter what field you’re in, everybody plays a special role. Whether it is cleaning up stock, being a field rep, in gas operations or in an office position — love what you do because you do it well.

What have you learned this summer?

All the networking I’ve been doing, I’ve met a lot of people. You know who you know, and it is important to know who you know. The person who you are sitting next to, they might be someone who can help you out in the future. Connections and communication — along with some hard work — can lead you far in life.

What do you think you’ll take away from this summer?

Safety, that’s what’s impacted me. At DTE Energy, they are very hot on safety. It’s safety first; it is always the priority. That is one thing I love about DTE is they want you to be safe, that is the thing that matters most.

What are your plans for the future?

Well, this fall, I’m starting at Henry Ford College. DTE is starting a new program there for careers in skilled trades and the energy industry and I’m transitioning right into that. So, right now, I’m just going to focus on schooling — on learning — and then using that education to get a job.

If I stick with that program, I plan to be here (at DTE) for many years to come. But I’ve also always wanted to be a nurse, too. I still may pursue that career, but for now, I’m excited to start college and learn more about the energy industry.

Any advice you’d like to give future interns?

The best advice I could give you is to stand out — don’t stay in the background because the ones in the background don’t get noticed first.