Former Interns Becoming Impact Players for TECO

If internships are designed to help participants confirm their career plans – or discover new professional possibilities – then TECO’s program is performing at a high level.

Case in point: Austin Kelly. Having learned about TECO while at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, he applied for an internship and was accepted. He spent three summers interning in TECO’s engineering department, and then worked part-time at TECO while earning a master’s degree in electrical engineering (power systems) from Texas A&M University. Austin came on board full-time in 2011 and today is TECO’s electrical engineer/information technology manager.

Recently, a trio of former TECO interns – Linsey Whalen, Haley Ackman and Callen Clark – walked the path that Austin paved, ready to become impact players on the TECO team.

portrait of Linsey WhalenLinsey Whalen. Linsey moved from an administrative internship into a full-time role on TECO’s human resources team. Finding that she loves the human resources field, Linsey changed majors and colleges, leaving behind nursing home administration to embrace studying HR at University of Houston while working at TECO.

Now Linsey’s workdays are filled with varied assignments, including helping colleagues with benefits enrollment, interviewing recruits and coordinating employee sessions with a financial advisor. “I just really enjoy interacting with my colleagues,” she says. “Letting them know, ‘Hey, I'm here for you guys.’ If there's anything they need, I want them to know they can reach out to me.”

portrait of Haley AckmanHaley Ackman. Haley interned at TECO for three years, discovering an untapped passion for numbers. “I was thinking of going into criminal justice,” she says. “But then I interned in accounting at TECO and found it’s what I love to do. Now I’m taking accounting courses at Brazosport College and am happy with where I’m headed.”

Since June 2019 she’s been a full-time clerk on TECO’s accounting team, gaining daily experience in journal vouchers, invoicing and other accounting duties. She has already taken on the role of primary timekeeper, with full responsibility for reviewing, editing and resolving timesheet exceptions.

Haley appreciates how everyone in the finance department has been willing to answer questions and introduce her to the department’s processes and rigorous quality controls, making her feel right at home and part of the team.

portrait of Callen ClarkCallen Clark. For Callen, interning confirmed a career vision. The son of a mechanical engineer, he switched majors from business to engineering after a semester at Baylor University. “Once I got into it – the creative, along with the technical and mathematical aspects – engineering was really interesting.” His TECO internship between his junior and senior years was his first engineering job experience.

Now as a full-time plant mechanical engineer for the company, he’s helping to develop plant system designs, provide engineering support to maintenance initiatives and manage projects. “TECO is such a large plant with so many internal systems, I learn new things every day. It’s a lot of fun,” he says.

Program Commitment. TECO launched its internship program in the early 1990s, initially offering positions to employees’ children but later expanding to include applicants outside the TECO family. Placements are open to applicants 18 and older who are enrolled in college. Most internships run from May to August, with some interns returning for subsequent years.

Company Culture. While the three recent interns have diverse interests outside of work, they share similar observations about working at TECO. For example, the welcoming attitude: “The culture here is phenomenal,” Linsey says. “It feels like a family.” And the care TECO invests in people: Like Austin Kelly before them, both Linsey and Haley are continuing their college studies thanks in part to tuition support.

Finally, there’s the role each employee plays in supporting the life-changing work of TECO’s customers. “It’s really cool to know you’re playing a small part in that,” Callen says. “Everybody’s passionate about a single goal, which is to provide reliable district energy service to Texas Medical Center institutions.”

February 2020
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