By Cassie McClure
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News 6.11.22
New Mexico passed a bill in March 2022 that waived tuition for students attending in-state public schools or tribal colleges – and shifted how Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) could approach its popular Internship Program. The legislative change allowed for even more opportunities for students interested in pursuing an Associate Degree in Water Technology at Doña Ana Community College and working with LCU.
“Since tuition is now covered by the state, we can essentially get more bang for our buck,” said LCU Director Delilah Walsh. “When the bill passed, we knew that we could likely extend the internships to more students by supporting their education by converting the money we used for tuition to help fund additional students or expand their learning experience with additional classes, like CDL A drivers licenses. ”
The competitive Internship had paid for tuition and other reasonable education-related expenses, including a monthly stipend for housing and meals. It also paid for on-the-job training and assistance with educational and living expenses, including but not limited to parking fees and necessary equipment rentals for laptops.
While in school, the interns selected for the program would work 20 paid hours per week during semesters and up to 40 paid hours per week maximum during academic breaks.
“During the school year, the intern will receive a bi-weekly paycheck for their work while pursuing their degree, as they are a full-time student,” said Walsh.
A full-time student is enrolled for 12 to 18 hours during the fall and spring semesters and six hours during the summer. Interns are expected to maintain good academic standing as students and not repeat coursework.
Different than before, LCU is requesting that students who apply should have taken at least two classes within the Water Technology program to see if the fit would be right for them. “Some of the classes are even taught by some of our employees so students can ask all the questions they might have before they commit to the program,” said Walsh.
Walsh said, “The internship will be the same assignments that our full-time employees already do. Plus, the hands-on experience allows students to see their contribution to our community immediately.”
After their internship, depending on the amount that LCU invested in the student, the intern commits to working from six months to nine years with LCU after graduation. The intern graduates will work in one of the following lines of business: Water Operations and Maintenance; Wastewater Operations and Maintenance; or Utilities Environmental.
The application deadline is 5 p.m. MDT on June 20, 2022, to be considered for the 2022-2023 Fall /Spring semesters. The application and all supporting documents must be submitted by emailing to LCUInternship@las-cruces.org or delivered in-person to LCU at 680 N. Motel Boulevard.
The LCU website has the full program brochure, contract, and additional important information can be found at:
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: LCU hopes to have another signing ceremony like last fall for new interns, showing students that their commitment is valued. The Internship Program has now been expanded thanks to free New Mexico college tuition for students.