From STEM Academy to Smart Energy Internship to scholarship winner

Nesochim Iheanyi-Igwe, 16, will attend Ohio State University on a full scholarship provided by Exelon to study chemical engineering this fall. She joins BGE as a Smart Energy Intern for the summer after participating in Exelon’s STEM Leadership Academy in 2020.

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Community Diversity and Inclusion Workforce Development

Nearly 67 interns from area high schools focused on the trades will experience BGE’s Smart Energy Internship from home this year, gaining skills and experience that will help them develop their career path.

One intern, Nesochim Iheanyi-Igwe already has deep ties to the company – she successfully completed Exelon’s STEM Leadership Academy in 2020 and also earned a full college scholarship from Exelon.

“I want to study chemical engineering; I really like the research aspect and it’s a field that allows me to branch out in the future,” said Nesochim. “Because of Exelon’s scholarship I have the chance to make my college choice based on where I really want to go, with no financial constraints. It gave me a voice in choosing my pathway to the future which is literally life-changing.”

Since 2016, interns from area high schools have joined BGE to gain experience in their chosen vocational tracks – computer aided design, automotive technology, pre-engineering, or construction. Like last summer, this year’s class will mostly participate from home due to COVID-19.

“I’m really excited to now be an intern with BGE. The STEM Academy opened my eyes to the professional development side of things. Now I’m interested in gaining more technical experience, learning the inner workings of corporate settings, and also seeing more people who use STEM in the real world,” said Nesochim.

The Smart Energy Internship program is a key piece of the company’s year-round Smart Energy Workforce Development program. During the six-week internship, students will learn about workplace readiness and professional development, and become familiar with BGE as an organization. They will also participate in classes on the Construction and Skilled Trades (CAST) test, a utility industry standard, which they can then take. Once they pass, they are eligible to apply for an entry-level position after graduating from high school.

The Smart Energy Internship Welcome Kit helps ensure each student has a successful summer experience

To ensure students have equal access and a smooth experience, BGE is providing each intern with laptops, mobile hotspots to facilitate internet access, notebooks, and materials that position them for success while working from home.

“Nesochim is an impressive example of the motivated, curious, and exceptional student we want for our Smart Energy Internship program,” said Rodney Oddoye, BGE senior vice president of governmental and external affairs. “We assembled this program to support the young people in our service area as they strive to build out their skillsets and experience, positioning them for life-long careers.”

A new offering this year is the opportunity for interns to take driver education classes and earn their learner’s permit. This is a vital as many positions at BGE and other companies require applicants to have a driver’s license.

Interns from Baltimore County’s Western School of Technology show off their Welcome Kits

This internship program is one piece of BGE’s innovative Smart Energy Workforce Development program, a joint effort with local workforce development agencies and schools to increase access to careers at BGE for those living in local communities. Since 2016, BGE has hosted nearly 240 high school students as summer interns and 19 of the interns (like Dre Mills) have been hired into full time roles within the utility.

Exelon’s STEM Leadership Academy also provides opportunities for young women to gain experience in STEM fields and also create a network of supporters in a traditionally male dominated field.

“Exelon and BGE really feel like a big family and it’s been easy to become a part of it,” said Nesochim. “Through the STEM Academy, I met people who cared about my success before they even knew me. They want me to succeed and showed me that people like me can achieve a lot in my career, which was life changing.”