New Internship Program Focuses on Future

Posted Thursday, March 12, 2020

For the 2017-18 school year, Skagit PUD has established a new student internship program at our water treatment plant (WTP). 

Interns work under the supervision of an experienced WTP operator to perform various activities related to the service, maintenance, repair and troubleshooting of water treatment plant equipment.

In coordination with Bellingham Technical College (BTC), which offers an Instrumentation and Control program, and a Process Technology program, Skagit PUD is able to place qualified students in the internship program.

Although the program is just getting off the ground, WTP Superintendent Jamie LeBlanc believes the PUD is already benefitting in several ways.

“It highlights our industry, which is normally overlooked by young professionals, so that we can acquire talented operators and technicians in the future,” LeBlanc explained.

“Having an intern has also enhanced the perspective of my current operators,” LeBlanc said. “Interns bring with them novel perspectives, fresh ideas, and specialized strengths and skill sets.”

Upon successful completion of the 10-week paid program, interns will have enough water-related experience to qualify for the Washington State Department of Health’s Water Treatment Plant Operator In-Training (WTPO-IT) certification examination.

The Operator In-Training certificate positions interns to gain full WTPO certification once they can demonstrate they have gained the required 12 months of operational experience in a water treatment plant.

By creating an internship program, it allows the PUD to evaluate the intern as a potential employee in a realistic setting outside of an interview.

The OIT certification is transferable to any other water treatment plant in Washington State, and will provide the intern with an expedited avenue for a potential career in the waterworks field.