A summer like no other for PSEG’s newest interns

College students are adapting and flourishing under work-from-home rules necessitated by the pandemic.

Not even the coronavirus could stop PSEG from providing students valuable professional experience. Unlike many companies that canceled their summer internship programs in the wake of the pandemic, PSEG preserved its longstanding program – using a virtual model to help ensure the safety of the interns and our employees. The 2020 internship class is telecommuting, much like thousands of other PSEG employees, as the company goes about its business differently because of COVID-19.

“Remote working skills are more important now that the coronavirus has changed how we work,” said Linda Johnson, Human Resources senior specialist-Talent Acquisition. “This was not the time to cancel the program. We just needed to redesign the program and do things differently so that we could still provide a valuable learning experience while keeping safety front and center.”  

Ninety-seven students, representing 36 colleges and universities – from Buffalo, New York, to Clemson, South Carolina – are bringing to the table exciting skills and backgrounds from various industries, including communications, engineering, finance, law and IT. And each is demonstrating that a fulfilling virtual internship is possible as they gain valuable professional experience by building connections with their peers and other employees at the company while learning new tools and new ways to do it remotely.

Jeanine Cerqueira is spending her summer supporting PSEG Long Island’s Finance department. The Pace University student, who interviewed for the position via a WebEx conference call, has spent less than a half hour on company property. “I did have to report to the Bethpage facility, where IT took a mere 15 minutes with me, setting up my laptop and configuring it with all the tools I needed to work from home,” she said. “But I’ve been training remotely, taking advantage of phone, instant messaging (IM) and WebEx meetings.” The accounting student, who is also preparing for her MS in Finance, said that the screen-sharing component of IM has been especially helpful for her training.

While the remote experience is not exactly what Cerqueira had expected or hoped for, the intern said that it is still providing a valuable opportunity. “I am still networking,” she said, “and my team has been very helpful and welcoming. I am learning different tools that are teaching me how to telecommute effectively, which is so important right now.”

Shannon Jerz shares many of Cerqueira’s sentiments. A Brooklyn Law School student, Jerz is interning in the Legal department and relies on phone, email and virtual meetings for her training. “It has been a pleasure meeting and speaking to my team virtually,” she said, adding that everyone has been supportive in helping her to have a valuable educational experience this summer. The intern has also had the opportunity to participate in WebEx meetings with her New Jersey PSEG law clerk counterparts and has “met” employees from all over the enterprise. Jerz, who had the benefit of interning on-site for PSEG Long Island in 2017 in the Community Partnership Program, agreed that learning to work remotely is critical in today’s world. “With the way things are right now, it is very possible that this could be a new normal for a lot of people, and being well adapted to this new way of business is a great skill to have.”

Other interns in the program have weighed in on their overall experience and what it’s like working for PSEG.

Caroline Thistle, a Rowan University student, is learning what it’s like to work at PSEG’s nuclear facilities, New Jersey’s largest producer of carbon-free energy. She’s working alongside other engineers in Hope Creek Programs Engineering and had this to say about her experience so far, “PSEG is a large company that has a monumental impact on the energy industry and the customers it serves, and yet, something I’ve learned is that it’s the little things that can matter most, and that PSEG and its employees are committed to ensuring that the little things are done well, so the big things can be done even better.”

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student Christopher Rovito is part of our gas asset strategy team. “Working in the planning and design group, I have realized the importance of correctly planning projects to prevent potential gas hazards and how much thought and precision has to go into the system to keep people safe,” Rovito said. “Since working for PSEG I have realized that is a company with strong values and dedicated employees who enjoy what they do. Working for them and meeting many employees who are willing to help me succeed has been a true pleasure.”

“The pandemic hasn’t changed the fact that interns are critical to creating our pipeline to future, permanent employment,” said Johnson. “COVID-19 just made the process of training and networking more challenging.”  

Susan Wetzel, Sr. Internal Communications Specialist - PSEG

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