As I reached the top of the stairs between the two floors of the communications department at CPS Energy’s downtown headquarters, I looked out the same window I gazed out of so many times before, at the beautiful scenery of the Riverwalk below.
It was the first day of my second summer internship with CPS Energy. I’d just spent the morning in orientation with the other summer interns, and was now free to check in with my mentor and get to work.
I barely placed my purse on top of my desk when I overheard my coworker, Albert Cantu.
“Is that Fritzi?” he asked.
A second later, he rounded the corner and after welcoming me back, started telling me about the new Energy Savings and Tech Tours I’ll be working on. I’m barely back in the office and already, I have several assignments lined up for me.
My name is Friederike Davis but everyone calls me Fritzi. I’m going to be a senior at John F. Kennedy High School. I’ve been valedictorian of my class for the past three years. I’m involved several extra-curricular activities, including the John F. Kennedy Mock Trial Team, Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society and CPS Energy’s Inspire U mentoring program.
I want to be a veterinarian and I plan on attending either Texas A&M, UC Davis, or Cornell University, where I will earn my bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and a doctorate in veterinary medicine.
Inspire U is a yearlong academic program through Communities in Schools, which partners with more than a dozen local businesses to keep high schools students in school and help them graduate. Each student is paired with a mentor and remains with the same mentor for as many years as they are in the program.
We meet once a month and spend a few hours with our mentor while participating in an entertaining yet educational activity. For example, one month we did mock interviews and another month we heard from representatives from a variety of colleges.
After successfully completing the academic program, students are able to apply for a 10-week, full time summer internship. I was chosen to work in Corporate Communications at CPS Energy. Since 2009, more than 27 students have participated in the internship program; several for multiple summers.
Last summer I was excited and nervous — it was my first real job. Knowing some of my coworkers from the Inspire U program helped me feel comfortable. At first I was hesitant to ask for help, but I quickly learned that with guidance, I became more efficient.
I helped with customer care fairs, which help inform the community all the different programs CPS Energy has to offer, plus logged all the customer feedback, which helped the company offer better customer service and put together presentation packets for various projects. I also wrote a blog post about Picture Your World, which gives cameras to youngsters between 8 and 18, sending them into nature with a professional photographer and naturalist.
There are lots of reasons why CPS Energy provides internships and supports education, said Karen Sanders, program manager for Corporate Responsibility.
“The departments get extra help during the summer as well as a young, enthusiastic point of view from someone who is eager to learn,” she said. “The student gets a scholarship for each summer that they work which can be used towards any part of their college education. They get to meet and work with a number of professionals throughout their summer. In return, CPS Energy is able to show how much we care about the community and education.”
One thing I enjoy about the intern program is that we’re provided multiple opportunities to interact with one another. For example, last year and this year we had a scavenger hunt where the interns were divided into teams to complete a variety of tasks in a certain time period. The scavenger hunt allowed us to work on our team building and time-management skills while having fun.
Interns and their mentors also get together for regular lunches – they’re optional but I like going because I’ve gotten to meet new people and develop friendships.
This summer, I easily found my rhythm again because I’m familiar with my surroundings. I’ve also taken on more responsibilities, which has meant using all my skills to help the department. I’m writing articles and taking photos for CPS Energy’s blog, interacting with customers at our Energy Savings and Tech Tours and working on the Smart Grid Initiative – I was also tasked with putting together our departmental July 4 lunch!
My experience at CPS Energy has helped me work on my time-management, communication and leadership skills. I’ve learned how to balance multiple projects at once and how to prioritize. This has helped me in school with my AP classes because any AP class you take is going to increase your workload and it will make you or break you. It will also help me serve as news editor for my school’s newspaper and historian for Mu Alpha Theta and National Honor Society.
My work experiences and the relationships I have developed through my CPS Energy internship will be invaluable as I head off to college next year.