By Michael Flowers, executive director of human resources, Lansing Board of Water & Light
The Lansing Board of Water & Light is more than just a local utility provider. We live and breathe our tagline of “Hometown People, Hometown Power,” and to us, this means investing in not only the community we serve, but also our employees. For the BWL, part of that commitment includes finding and hiring the best and brightest minds, especially for those in STEAM jobs.
STEAM is more than just one of the four utilities the BWL provides the greater Lansing area, it’s also a work discipline with an aging employee base that has a constant need to be filled. This new demand for talent is specifically looking for young people with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, art/design and math who are dedicated, passionate and engaged employees. Whether it’s understanding chemistry and math in our water production department or having a technology background to help implement our smart meter program, a lot is changing at the BWL as we work to become the utility of the future.
So how do we bridge the gap to bring in the younger generation and fill those jobs, and what is the BWL doing to help?
For those in high school, we offer a program called 1st S.T.E.P. — or School to Training and Employment Program — which pairs high school seniors in our service territory with a mentor at the BWL to get hands-on learning in jobs including information technology, engineering and utility design. We also offer a paid summer internship for college students, who get even more hands-on training in jobs such as finance, accounting, engineering and project management. These experiences allow students to be trained early and can even provide a gateway into employment immediately following graduation.
Plus, the BWL has a lot to offer as an employer, especially for the new generation. From competitive salaries to free health and wellness classes to opportunities to volunteer at charitable events, the BWL actively looks for ways to keep employees engaged with the community, even after work hours.
Our success as an organization lies at the feet of the generation just now entering the workforce. For the BWL to be successful, we need a diverse group of bright, eager students who are interested in STEAM careers to carry us to the next level. We believe in the changes we’re making to become a better utility, and that can only be done if we have the best and brightest minds helping to make it happen.
Michael Flowers is the executive director of human resources for the Lansing Board of Water & Light, and is an adjunct professor at Lansing Community College, a frequent lecturer at Central Michigan University and MSU’s School of Human Resources & Labor Relations.