Students tour facilities with a career on their minds

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When Korey Danbridge first walked into one of DTE Energy’s natural gas service centers last week, he thought getting energy to homes and businesses was a simple task.

Then the 17-year-old River Rouge High School senior toured the Melvindale facility and learned about all that goes into getting natural gas and electricity to Michiganders.

“I used to think it was a simple thing — they just push a button and get power out to everyone,” he said. “But all this equipment they have to use, all the people … it’s amazing.”

Danbridge is one of about 100 students DTE Energy invited to service centers across the state as part of Careers in Energy Week. Consumers Energy and the Lansing Board of Water and Light also invited about 100 students into their facilities.

The purpose of Careers in Energy Week, as proclaimed by Gov. Rick Snyder, is multi-fold: to celebrate the 100,000 energy-related jobs in Michigan, to recognize that number will grow 9 percent by 2024, and to inspire young students to consider pursuing a job in energy.

And, based on what the kids said, it seemed to work.

Take Akevian McCoy as an example. He’s a 15-year-old sophomore from Kentwood, and for years, he’s wanted to become a barber.

McCoy said he cuts hair regularly and is good at it. And while he still may pursue that option, he said his visit to DTE’s Wealthy Station in Grand Rapids made him aware of other possibilities — and a skilled trades position is something he may now pursue.

“It seems like a good option,” he said.

Then there’s Evelyn Molina, another sophomore from the Grand Rapids area. She loves building things and working with her hands, she said. It’s a love her father, a freelance handyman, instilled in her.

Prior to last week’s tour, she’d wondered for years what people did at the building with the DTE sign out front. She said she simply had no idea. Now, Molina said she wouldn’t mind working at DTE some day.

“The job possibilities here really caught my attention,” she said, before mentioning the hourly rates some workers earn. “Who wouldn’t want that pay check?”

About half of DTE’s work force will be eligible to retire in the next five to 10 years. And across the state, there are more skilled trades positions than workers to fill them. Diane Antishin, vice president of Human Resources Operations, said that’s why it is important for DTE to host events like Careers in Energy.

“These students represent the next generation of employees,” she said. “Our skilled workers are the backbone of our company; without them we simply cannot serve our customers.

“So, getting students to our facilities so we can share what we do and show our passion about our jobs, that’s part of building that pipeline to ensure our next workers are educated, trained and ready to work at DTE.”

Interested in a job at DTE Energy? Check out all our open positions.