By Cassie McClure
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 8/20/21
It was signing day for the new interns starting their careers with Las Cruces Utilities (LCU), and a buzz was in the air. Las Cruces City Manager Ifo Pili said it reminded him of a signing day for sports with similar energy.
“You and your families should be no less proud for who you are and what got you here,” he said. “The process is not an easy one, with many good applicants. LCU chose you for who you are and what they feel you’ll bring.”
Gerardo Carrasco and Irvin Villa are the two newest successful applicants to the LCU Internship Program. The program is a competitive program that awards internships to incoming or current full-time students pursuing an Associate Degree in Water Technology at the New Mexico State University Doña Ana Community College.
The LCU Internship pays for tuition and other reasonable education-related expenses, including a monthly stipend and paid on-the-job training to assist with educational and living expenses.
“These interns will go on to do jobs that support our quality of life, so we want to be there for them and their education,” Delilah Walsh, LCU director, said. “What do they need to succeed? Safety goggles or a laptop? We will help to provide that.”
Interns work 20 hours per week while in school and 40 hours during academic breaks. After they graduate, they commit to working eight years with LCU. The intern graduates will work in one of the following lines of business: Water Operations and Maintenance, Wastewater Operations and Maintenance, or Utilities Environmental.
Both Villa and Carrasco had experiences that led them to find the internship in their own ways.
Villa spent a year as a temporary employee, working in wastewater, and enjoyed the subtle creativity of the work. “Every day, it was something new to learn, something new to try,” Villa said. “I asked my coworkers more and more, and they referred me to this program.
Carrasco said an interaction at Las Cruces High captured his interest when a water technician came to campus. “He was taking water samples, and I just asked him questions – what are your responsibilities?” Carrasco said. “It’s something I hadn’t considered before, and now I’m looking forward to helping keep our water supply clean if I can.”
Villa said that the ceremony was surreal because he knew he was competing with others. “Don’t hesitate to apply, especially if you’re struggling to figure out what you want to do,” he said. “This opens the door to keeping you moving forward, especially if you might have trouble paying for your education.”
LCU Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTOS: Above: Gerardo Carrasco; below, Irvin Villa. Carrasco and Villa are the newest interns at LCU who will be receiving a college degree and a steady job with the City of Las Cruces Utilities.