Partnership with HBCUs helps Duke Energy recruit top talent

Partnership with HBCUs helps Duke Energy recruit top talent

Fascinated by how things work, NC A&T State University student is becoming an engineer

As a young child, Jonathan Reddix loved riding the merry-go-round at the zoo. 

While other riders waved to their parents and posed for pictures, he’d stare at the overhead gears and pulleys, trying to figure out what made the merry-go-round spin.

He said his mother and grandmother laugh about those rides, and his early fascination with how things work. His family’s also proud that his studies resulted in top grades, scholarships and a strong interest in engineering.

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Jonathan Reddix, left, and Jordan Lewis in the N.C. A&T State University Maker Space.

When his college hosted businesses for a career fair, an advisor steered him toward the Duke Energy booth – and his future. Reddix, now a senior at North Carolina A&T State University, will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering. In June, he’ll start as an engineer with Duke Energy in its Distribution Center in Apex, N.C., his hometown.

The road to his hiring began with a partnership between Duke Energy and the North Carolina Governor’s Internship Program. The program matches HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) students with internship opportunities at Fortune 500 companies. Duke Energy leaders say the partnerships help the company’s strategy to recruit talented employees and diversify its workforce.

“Energy is an extraordinarily complex industry and finding top talent is crucial to our future,’’ said Laurent Longin, director of talent acquisition for Duke Energy. “We want our workforce to represent our diverse communities, and to think about our challenges in different ways to come up with the best solutions.”

While Governor’s program interns in North Carolina earn $15 an hour for eight weeks, interns from HBCUs in Duke Energy service areas in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida can make $16 to $21 an hour to work full time for 10 weeks over the summer. They also get a housing allowance. It’s not just a summer job, it’s often a career starter: about 65 percent of paid internships lead to full-time jobs for graduating students, according to a national study.

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“When I go on campus, I’m always amazed by the breadth of experience and intelligence the students have,” said Candice McPhatter, who works with HBCUs as campus recruiting manager for Duke Energy. “It’s up to us to identify those qualities and to expose students to the myriad of opportunities we offer. It is imperative that we show them that we’re invested in helping them carve out their future.”

Charlotte native Jordan Lewis said his Duke Energy internship offered invaluable experience. Lewis, a mechanical engineering major who graduates in 2020, spent the past summer working in Customer Delivery at Charlotte’s Little Rock Operations Center.

He worked in residential development projects and said he saw new neighborhoods and apartments in various stages of planning, design and construction.

“I loved it, I’d go out to the sites and work with different employees to learn how they design and build the grids,” Lewis said. “Every day I got to do something different.

“Growing up in Charlotte, I’d see Duke Energy trucks, and always heard good things about the company,” Lewis said. “I see it as a definite option for my future.”

Reddix, who also studies mechanical engineering, says his two summers as an intern offered opportunities to challenge himself and learn about the company’s culture. He said his co-workers and supervisors were welcoming, helpful and encouraging.

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“I was able to meet some incredible engineers and had some amazing mentors,” he said. “I got to work on construction drawings and projects and got valuable feedback on how I could improve on things.”

Reddix also served on a Duke Energy diversity council, talking about the importance of an inclusive work environment.

“Everyone came from different walks of life, and I was able to talk freely, I never felt uncomfortable,” he said. “If I hadn’t done the internships, I wouldn’t have felt nearly as confident about my future. Duke Energy is the ideal work environment for the way I interact. I feel like I’m prepared to face real challenges in the real world.”

Duke Energy’s commitment to a diverse workforce

Duke Energy is committed to increasing diversity in its workforce through various programs that match talent with opportunity.

  • Duke Energy was the first energy company and second North Carolina company to join the HBCU Partnership Challenge. The company has committed to developing and deepening relationships with the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • The company has given nine HBCUs $1.5 million for scholarships, academic programs and other initiatives focusing on meeting the energy industry’s workforce needs. In one case, the company invested in a five-week program at North Carolina A&T State University to attract high-achieving students in engineering and computer science fields.
  • The company offers information sessions at career fairs and holds on-campus interviews at HBCUs in North Carolina, Florida and South Carolina.
  • Black Enterprise magazine named Duke Energy as one of the “50 Best Companies for Diversity.”
  • Forbes named Duke Energy as one of “America’s best employers for diversity.”

More information: Duke Energy careers.

 

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