'It got me on a better track:' We Energies program gives MPS students experience in the trades

MILWAUKEE — In a large field behind the We Energies' building off Bluemound Road, there's a place where students can get energized about their futures. For some select days in October, a small group of students from Milwaukee Public Schools got to leave the classroom to get hands-on training with We Energies employees through a program called Demo Days.

"It exposes them to careers in energy," said Jennifer Buchanan, We Energies internship program manager. "It lets them see what we do."

Demo Days is part of a larger partnership program between We Energies and Milwaukee Public Schools that gives students an opportunity to have an internship and earn college credit with the energy company.

During Demo Days, 30 students who applied to be a part of the program rotate through five stations, experiencing all the types of work a We Energies field crew could encounter on the job. The students are guided by current employees with the hopes of working beside them over the summer.

Of the 30 teens participating, only a handful will get a job.

During this Demo Days event, Dayce Woodard worked with We Energies after going through the process in 2018.

"What really made it blow up was the Demo Days," said Woodard. "That's what really made it for me."

He said the program provided him with a new opportunity and changed his life.

"It wasn't easy because I was kinda behind in school and they told me, 'That's not gonna work,'" said Woodard. "'If you're not caught up, you can't work with us,' and I'm like, 'Alright, gotta pick it up then.'"

The senior at Bradley Tech showed future generations the ropes while preparing for his future.

Jennifer Buchanan, We Energies internship program manager

"It got me on a better track," Woodard said.

That's exactly what program leaders hope for.

"For many of them, it opens doors for them that were never open, they never even knew existed, and its changing lives not just for them, but for their families," Buchanan said.

It's showing students there's more than one path in life. You may just have to dig for it.

The Demo Days event that FOX6 attended focused on line mechanic work, but that's not the only internship path in this program. Students can also apply to be part of the gas line program or the design engineer program.