"As a co-op student I was able to gain nearly 2.5 years of experience working in nine different assignments,” Stokes says. “I’ve been with this company for more than 30 years, and got a very strong start through my successful internship experience.” – Darryl A. Stokes
Darryl A. Stokes, director, Engineering and Standards, has worked with Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) for 30 years.
Stokes is part of the founding board of directors of the Bluford Drew Jemison (BDJ) STEM Academy for males. BDJ’s mission is to provide an intellectually and academically rigorous education for all of its students to help them fully prepare for secondary and post-secondary education, their career and ultimately their lives as productive citizens of the greater society.
The academy provides year-round academic support to scholars, creates a positive learning environment including extended school days, and constantly exposes students to positive male role models and STEM activities.
Stokes is also the chairman for Advancing Minorities in Engineering (AMIE), an organization that strongly supports and promotes STEM in minority groups.
“One of the fundamental objectives of AMIE is to expand corporate, government and academic alliances to implement and support programs to attract, educate, graduate and place underrepresented minority students in engineering careers,” Stokes says. “Through our valuable partnerships with corporate, government and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) engineering programs, we are constantly sending the collective message on the importance of enhancing our STEM pipeline with talented and exceptional students who will address the national crisis with America falling behind in innovation, science and technology.”
Currently at BGE, Stokes spearheads an organization responsible for utility system engineering for transmission, substation, gate station, distribution and metering. As BGE chief engineer, he plays a critical role in the recruitment and development of BGE’s engineering talent, partnering with several colleges and universities to significantly enhance the quality of Exelon’s (BGE parent company) internship program and exceed engineering recruitment goals.
Stokes has a close connection with Exelon’s internship program, as he is a product of the program. “As a co-op student I was able to gain nearly 2.5 years of experience working in nine different assignments,” Stokes says. “I’ve been with this company for more than 30 years, and got a very strong start through my successful internship experience. I was able to make key career decisions right from the start, which built upon and expanded meaningful working relationships and allowed me to work in multiple leadership assignments. I was able to create my career vision based upon my internship experience.”
Stokes deems internships as win-win situations, since they “provide employers such as Exelon with valuable opportunities to assess whether their interns will provide meaningful contributions toward the achievement of company goals.” Stokes continues, “In addition to our students gaining a competitive advantage in future hiring decisions, they gain valuable exposure to Exelon’s culture, people and job opportunities. Our students can better assess whether our organization is a cultural fit and determine what meaningful career opportunities we can provide.”
Exelon hires approximately 300 interns each summer and offers a professional internship track where interns must currently be enrolled and seeking a bachelor’s or master’s degree on a full-time basis at an accredited university. The company also offers a technical internship track where interns must be enrolled and seeking an associate’s degree in a technical field related to the power distribution or generation industry. In addition to being degree-seeking students, interns are required to have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.8 and a GPA of at least 3.0 in their major for both the professional and technical internship track.
Exelon interns are exposed to valuable career and skills development opportunities that allow them to explore their field of interest and build their decision-making, team-building and critical-thinking skills. All interns are expected to actively participate in orientation, networking events, plant/site tours, community service outings and end-of-summer exposure to Exelon’s culture, people and job opportunities.
Many students accept internships with hopes of landing a permanent job with the company upon completion of their internship. Although that does not happen often with many companies’ internship programs, it does frequently for Exelon.
As a former Exelon intern, Stokes says: “The intern program functions as a cost-effective ‘screening’ process for new, full-time talent by providing a mutual assessment period between the intern and the company. Ultimately, this process leads to greater job satisfaction and retention among newly hired entry-level employees who were converted from the intern program. Like other companies, we interview our ‘rising seniors’ and, when appropriate, offer full-time employment before they return for their senior year. It’s interesting to note that 42 percent of our 2012 Exelon interns were hired to full-time positions in 2013.”
Named one of the 25 best places to work for recent graduates in 2013 by Experience, a ConnectEDU company, Exelon maintains effective partnerships with several universities and colleges across the nation. These partnerships have strengthened the internship program through students who have served as “powerful word-of-mouth ambassadors” when they returned back to campus and from a corporation perspective, as the company has gained valuable insight and access to academic leaders, and has had the opportunity to influence their programs and curriculum—another testament to Stokes’ internship win-win argument.
Stokes stresses the importance of taking on internship opportunities, as they are a great way to experience the career in which you’re most interested, and provide you with boundless experience that will be useful throughout your career.
“Exelon’s internship program has been around for years. The program helps prepare students for future business needs by creating a pipeline of diverse candidates for full-time, entry-level positions. A large percentage of our engineering workforce received their start, or gained a competitive hiring advantage, by being part of an internship program,” Stokes says.