East Bay Municipal Utility District • Phillips 66 • Shell
When thinking about what these companies have in common, there is an important connection that is transforming our college and community that some may not know: each recently provided valuable work experience to interns through the Cooperative Work Experience Education Program at Los Medanos College.
“Students are directly connecting what they’re learning in the classroom to the actual workplace,” said Tara Dale Sanders, LMC Community Partnership Liaison and Coordinator of Cooperative Work Experience Education. “They are engaging with supervisors, creating and carrying out objectives, and learning how to be not just an employee, but part of a culture.”
LMC’s Cooperative Work Experience Education Program, also known as CWEE, supports about 75 LMC students each semester in internships and other work experience opportunities, some paid, some not. The students earn college credit while carrying out job specific goals, learning required skills in the trade, and completing a field report.
The program benefits employers too. “Employers spend the term interacting with prospective employees who are engaged and excited about the field,” Sanders said. “This not only connects employers directly to a talent pipeline, but allows them to train interns to the specifics of their company. Having the interns enrolled in the work experience class also allows for a system of accountability that the employer is directly involved in, with the supervisor contributing to 45% of the students overall grade. Employers feel confident knowing that they are involved in the internship on different levels.”
Internships and CWEE also give students an advantage on getting into the workforce. Dante Owens, a summer 2014 ETEC (Electrical and Instrumentation Technology) intern at EBMUD said, “One month before graduation, I had fifteen applications out and received no callbacks. Since then, I have had the opportunity to update my resume with new skills learned, including the Worker P position (Intern) experience at EBMUD… I have reapplied for some of the same companies and now I have received calls back from Chevron, Genentech, and San Jose Water.” Owens updated his resume as a requirement of the work experience class and currently has two job offers on the table to choose from.
Under the oversight of LMC’s Workforce Development team, our CWEE program is growing, supporting more students each semester. Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in a work experience class based on an internship or job that they find themselves; however, LMC provides some opportunities as well. The team has developed a number of internships for which students can apply, including areas in advanced manufacturing, athletics, business, child development, graphic communications and others.
A workbook explains the LMC CWEE program requirements to students and provides all necessary documents. Each student goes through an orientation at the beginning of the semester, and has a faculty they are connected with throughout the entire experience. “It’s a balance of faculty, student, and employer interaction and dialog in the program, creating a very supportive and beneficial experience,” said Sanders.
The internships allow students to get first-hand experience in the field they want to have a career in and to showcase their talent. The value of these experiences as stated by Dante Owens puts it into perspective, “…Having a degree or certificate in this field doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a job. But, having the expertise from an internship gives companies the idea of hiring you because of the experience you acquire.”
Robert Peters, Supervisor at Shell Martinez Refinery, explains Shell’s involvement in the program. “Since 2006, Shell Martinez has been an avid supporter of the Los Medanos College ETEC program. Over the past six years, the refinery has hosted a ten-week ETEC summer internship, providing fourteen students with instrument, analyzer and electrical experience. In addition to the internship program, the site has hired seven ETEC graduates. We have been very impressed with the overall work ethic and positive attitude of these employees. We will continue to further develop our relationship with the college and support of the program as a key element of our local workforce development efforts.”
Los Medanos College is incredibly thankful for the strong internships that have been developed with industry, and is continuing to develop more Bay-Area wide.
For more information about internships, visit www.losmedanos.edu/cwee.