Rebecca Sullivan is a sales intern at Southern California Edison (SCE). The product she’s peddling?: A career at SCE. It might seem ironic that an intern is selling other students on a career at the utility, but Sullivan is part of a team that practices what it preaches.
“They treat me like any other member of the team, not like a typical intern you see at other companies,” said Sullivan, a senior studying business management at California State University, Long Beach.
The Campus & University Relations team at SCE is her team. It’s a small, but bustling band of SCE employees on the frontlines of stocking the talent pipeline for the company’s future.
“What we do is a long-term approach to talent acquisition,” said Angela Delgado, manager, Campus & University Relations. “A lot of our candidates and interns are juniors in college. We see ourselves as developing a pipeline of entry-level talent for the company as these candidates enter our internship program early on in their college careers.”
A lot of what the team of six does on a regular basis is what you might think. They attend career fairs, screen candidates and plan company informational sessions. It doesn’t stop there, however.
DiAnna Boyer, an analyst with the team, says some of her friends misunderstand her roles and responsibilities.
“It’s so much more than (the events),” said Boyer. “They think it’s easy, but our job requires a lot of hard work and preparation.”
Jessica Rodriguez, another member of the Campus & University Relations team, agrees.
“The unique and challenging thing about our job is that we have to engage people internally, be it executives or other operating unit employees looking to hire interns or new graduates, and externally, whether that’s college representatives or students,” said Rodriguez.
While the signature program of the Campus & University Relations team is the summer internship program, recruiting and placing candidates into full-time positions at SCE takes place year-round.
One of the factors for the non-stop pace is to make sure SCE gets its hands on the best talent out there.
Erin Childs, an SCE analyst with Resource Planning, was recruited through and is now helping the Campus & University Relations team and her department recruit other analysts from the college ranks. She says SCE has to be on the same hiring schedule as consulting companies because a lot of the good candidates will get job offers starting in the fall of their senior year.
“We are looking for high performing students that are good with numbers and those students tend to be picked off by consulting companies or finance companies,” said Childs, whose department works on long-term procurement planning, modeling and simulations, and long-term price forecasts.
“We also want to get people that are interested in working in energy and interested in working for an electrical utility. So that’s a lot of things to factor in — personality, interest, fit — leaving us with a small and specific pool of candidates. We have to start early.”
Like other companies across the country, SCE is also dealing with the pending retirement bubble of highly skilled workers who possess decades of institutional knowledge. In 2011, the first of the baby boomers — Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — turned 65 years old, and are eligible for retirement.
Delgado says replacing soon-to-be-retired employees can be daunting, but it’s also an opportunity.
“The workforce in the future is going to be a little different than the workforce from the past few decades,” she said. “We have an opportunity to help transform the workforce into something that can better meet the challenges that our company will face in the coming decades.
“One of the things we sell to prospective candidates is SCE’s advanced technology. We point to the dynamics around California’s energy future as it relates to the utilities,” said Delgado. “When you talk to students from both in and out of state, they know as far as energy policy is concerned, where California goes, the rest of the country follows. They know that we are developing the next generation of technologies to power society.”
This is one of the themes that motivates Delgado’s team — bringing in the next generation of employees that will help SCE navigate through the challenges of tomorrow.
What also motivates the team is to see former members of the internship programs or college graduates they helped place move up the management ranks.
“It’s really gratifying to see candidates go from entry level jobs to positions of leadership within the company,” said Rodriguez.