Brian Davenport, a 14-year-old Detroiter, stood gripping a long yellow stick, facing a fuse on a mock electrical pole.
“You’re the worker now, use the stick,” said Keith Burgess, a DTE Energy cable splicer to Davenport. The teenager used the Murphy stick — a pole with a special hook on the end — to pull out a fuse and then replace it.
It’s a common activity for workers like Burgess when out in the field providing and restoring power to homes.
“That was fun,” said Davenport, a ninth grader at Detroit’s Frederick Douglass Academy. “I could do that all day.”
That hands-on activity was part of a career fair, dubbed the Find Your Future Fair, organized by the United Way of Southeastern Michigan at the Renaissance Center in Detroit. More than 2,000 freshmen from Detroit Public Schools Community District attended the event.
Meant to inspire the youthful attendees toward employment or college after graduation, the students streamed into event as volunteers cheered them on, holding signs with slogans ranging from “No Limits” to “Believe.”
Dr. Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the district, and Dr. Herman Gray, CEO of the local United Way, high-fived students as the entered the hall. A collection of local employers, including DTE Energy, lined the event area — there to give the students a glimpse of career options available in their hometown.
DTE provided hands-on demonstrations to the students, gave them cards outlining five career options at the company — including the type of education required to attain those positions — and more than a dozen employees talked with the students to describe a typical work day.
The goal, said Carmen Bender, a program manager for Workforce Development and Planning at DTE, was to help build the mental map for the students’ future.
“We know DTE is a great place to work, and we wanted to spread the word to these students,” she said. “DTE is a company that provides good paying, stable jobs — and those jobs are key to helping rebuild and revitalize Detroit.
“Now, these kids know we’re an option,” she said. “Four, five, six years from now, when they are considering where to work, they’ll know DTE is place they can build a career.”
Mariana Leon, a ninth grader from the Academy of Americas, at first was a little nervous about the possibility of working around electricity.
“It seems kind of dangerous,” she said.
But after listening to workers describe the safety procedures, she warmed to the idea of DTE as a future work place. Plus, she said, working outside is something that appeals to her.
“I want to work outside,” she said, adding that DTE provides that kind of opportunity. “I just like how you’re not in the office; you feel free outside.”
Christopher Williams, a student at Renaissance High School, said he was surprised by the many job opportunities at DTE.
“It seems really cool to work with electricity and power supply,” he said.
If you’re interested in a career at DTE Energy, check out some of our current openings.