Connections Lead to Full-time Job
Security and Business Resiliency Intern
Beginning my job
search as an undergrad-uate
student at San Jose
State, I wanted to find an
internship that could lead
to a potential career in
the water industry. After interviewing at
three different agencies, I was hired at SJW
in 2016 as a paid intern working for Jim.
I had the opportunity to work on projects
that helped SJW stay prepared in the event
of an emergency, including updating
emergency contact databases and working
with organizations like CalWARN to en-sure
mutual aid in the case of an emergen-cy
or natural disaster.
While I enjoyed the work, I wanted
more challenges that would allow me to use
my previous experience working at Google
and other companies. I focused on what I
could do to make the internship better for
myself and for the company. I helped put
more structure into the program by writing
standard operating procedures that assisted
in the training of future interns. To better
understand the internship position, I found
that FEMA offered free online courses
on emergency management that would
be helpful for Jim’s interns to take in the
future. I was able to earn seven different
certifications through the online program.
As my internship came to an end, I
kept my eyes open for full-time positions
at SJW. My opportunity came after a state
law was passed requiring water utilities
to perform lead testing at schools in
their service areas. SJW’s water quality
superintendent, who I had met a few times
in passing, informed me there would be a
temporary position available to carry out
the Lead in Schools Program. I applied,
interviewed, and was hired. However, I
still wanted to find a position that was full-time
and permanent. After eight months
in the water quality position, I applied for
and was hired as a full-time employee in
the water services engineering department
as an engineering technician. Currently,
I’m earning my master’s degree in civil
engineering at San Jose State and working
full time at SJW. My internship and
connections at SJW inspired me to further
my education and pursue a career in a
field I’m passionate about. S
FINDING A GREAT INTERN
OVER THE PAST EIGHT YEARS, Jim Wollbrinck has been perfecting how San
Jose Water hires high-performing interns. Here he shares a few tips for a no-fail
intern search process that evaluates candidates based on key skills.
Let HR screen candidates for scheduling issues and good phone manners. A
second interview and testing by the hiring manager gauges interpersonal skills, as well
as knowledge, independent thinking, problem solving, and other factors.
Candidates are given standard tests for proficiency in MS Word and Excel.
Knowing both programs is essential for our work. The tests allow us to see hard skill
results in a matter of 20 to 40 minutes.
Work with Limited Instruction
The ability to follow standard operating procedures with limited direction is a must.
The tests come with a short set of directions to see how well each reacts to this
The tests demonstrate how well prospective interns know the software programs
and follow directions. Often, the best candidates deliver more than what we asked for
to demonstrate their skills.
While skills are important, if a manager has to spend significant time and energy
monitoring, supervising and coaching the intern, then we lose productivity and increase
costs per project. As we evaluate each candidate, we look for a willingness to work
hard with limited supervision.
If there is a tie between two candidates, our final decision factor is how well they
will fit into the workgroup.