Exposure to Cooperative Careers

From the CEO
Exposure to Cooperative Careers 

By Steve Foss

In June FreeState had a unique opportunity to host 40 youth from Kansas and Hawaii who were on their way to the annual Cooperative Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. We have been on the schedule for the Hawaii and Kansas delegation for years, and every year, I remind myself that we have an opportunity to expose these youth to more than just a bucket truck ride, a safety demonstration and seeing a cooperative office. 

We see kids from across the state (and the island of Kaui). Some already set on what they want to do, and others are still thinking and exploring the opportunities. I hope their visit to FreeState might sway one or two into considering a career in electrical distribution in the field, or the office. 

A nationwide economic impact study of electric cooperatives shows that co-ops support nearly 612,000 jobs. With almost 1 in 8 residents across the country served by an electric cooperative, we have many jobs to power up cooperative members across the United States. Also, think about the jobs that will pop up in the next five years when many of these youth will be entering the workforce. They may be doing something we haven’t even discovered yet. 

It is our goal to highlight all the people it takes to power a community, and it isn’t just our linemen. We plan an activity for the youth during their visit that allows dialogue and one-on-one career advice from the professionals. We give them time to ask questions about accounting, finance, engineering, safety, communications, human resources, information technology, and member relations. They visit with our staff so they can hear firsthand what kind of path they could take to end up with a job at their electric co-ops back home. We share that employees of co-ops are dedicated to the members they serve. We want them to know that jobs like these are options and that not all of our positions require a four-year degree. 

No matter what cooperative these kids represented, we have something in common. We are all guided by the same seven cooperative principles, and we all want to improve the lives of those we serve by empowering communities.