Jump Start to Success keys on future energy workforce

Jump Start to Success keys on future energy workforce

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Recently more than 1,200 Hattiesburg area ninth graders got a chance to interact with Mississippi Power employees and get a look at future careers in a variety of job fields. The event sharing a similar format as Pathways 2 Possibilities (P2P) is known as Jump Start to Success.

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) exhibition, now in its third year, was a beehive of activity as students from 12 local schools took part in hands-on learning activities at the Forrest County Multipurpose Center.

“Our employees make a difference every day, but especially at events like this when they take the time to introduce career opportunities in our industry to our future workforce,” said Ann Holland, Mississippi Power community development representative.

Jump Start to Success provided Mississippi Power Co-op Student Austin Waldrup a chance to interact with students. The Mississippi State engineering student and Laurel native assisted colleagues at the company’s iCan! Girls in Engineering station, one of several areas where company employees manned interactive displays.

“Programs like this gave me a more in-depth look at the business and helped push me in the right direction,” said Waldrup. “I can relate to these students because I’ve been in their shoes before.”

A few weeks ago, Waldrup was in a different role as he observed and worked alongside the company’s line crews during the aftermath of the Jan. 21 tornado that struck the Pine Belt.

“It was truly a baptism by fire,” Waldrup added. “I learned so much being around our crews, especially on the reconstruction of our system. We put in some long days, but I really enjoyed it.”

Success stories like Waldrup’s are why Jump Start to Success has grown since its inception in 2015 and it’s also why area leaders love having events like this in their own backyard.

“We saw for ourselves how successful P2P has been on the Coast,” said Daniel Jayroe, community development director for the Hattiesburg Area Development Partnership. “Events like this represent a great chance to get away from just handing out pamphlets at local high schools. The interactive theme really opens the eyes of these kids to potential careers in several different fields. What’s funny is I tell kids all the time that I went to college for six years, while my brother went to a community college for two years and learned a trade. Right now, he makes more money than I do.”

While a higher salary isn’t a given, the chance to find a meaningful career is always on the table.

That’s especially true for Michael Emerson, who credits last year’s Jump Start experience as a factor in his current role as a utility lineman.

Emerson’s former guidance counselor at Sumrall High School attended this year’s showcase and says her school is taking a more active role in CTE programs.

“Seeing what career fairs like this have to offer influenced us to bring the iCan! Girls in Engineering program to Sumrall,” said Julie Clinton. “It’s great to see these demonstrations come to smaller schools.”

Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), produces safe, reliable and environmentally responsible energy for nearly 187,000 customers in 23 southeast Mississippi counties. Mississippi Power ranked first in the Southeast Electric Exchange’s 2016 Safety Performance Reports and is consistently recognized as an industry leader in reliability, customer service and safety. Visit our websites at www.mississippipower.com and www.mississippipowernews.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on TwitterLinkedInGoogle+ and YouTube.