Unique Intern Program for Energy Businesses

(Hobbs, NM) Last summer, an innovative program that matched a senior-level college student with a local energy business in Lea County was extremely successful, and is now being expanded to include more area industries in southeast New Mexico. The program is provided by New Horizons Foundation, an energy-focused Permian Basin nonprofit that builds relationships between the energy industry in Lea County with federal labs throughout the United States.

For this unique program, New Horizons Foundation interviews and vets upper-level students who are studying in the energy field, and who are interested in living in Lea County to gain hands-on experience in their chosen major. The Foundation will assist in placing engineering and business interns with businesses in Lea and Eddy County. It will also provide housing for the students at New Mexico Junior College apartments.

“This intern program has benefits for both the business and the student,” says Dale Gannaway, Executive Director of New Horizons Foundation. “Because the Foundation is the intermediary, businesses know that interns are thoroughly vetted and will work hard during their internship. It also brings an educated, experienced workforce to southeast New Mexico that hopefully will return when they finish their degree. Many of the junior and senior level students need very little mentoring, and this is a great way to ‘interview’ future employees for leadership positions in a company.”

This past summer, Tyler Hockenberry, a 5th year mechanical engineering student from Wichita State University, interned at Lea County Electric Coop, working with the power generation staff. He also shadowed local entrepreneurs and businesses to learn more about the oil and gas, energy generation and engineering industries. Hockenberry has returned to Wichita State University to complete his senior year at the School of Engineering.

“My experience in Lea County was a huge advantage for me to learn first-hand about the energy business,” says Hockenberry. “The oil and gas industry is the entity that is carrying our nation’s economy and I want to be involved, to contribute my resources to the ongoing effort.”

“I received a call from Brian Austin, Employer Relations Manager for the College of Engineering, Business and Liberal Arts at Wichita State,” Ganaway states. “After talking with Tyler about his experience here, Mr. Austin would like to place a number of engineering and business interns in Lea County, if there is sufficient interest. I am also talking with New Mexico State University and University of New Mexico, about their similar interests as well.”

Businesses interested in learning more about this unique internship should call Dale Gannaway at 575-492-4712 or email: dgannaway@nmjc.edu.


New Horizons Foundation (NHF) is based in the energy-focused Permian Basin region with offices in Hobbs, NM and Washington D.C. NHF has working relationships and partnerships throughout the energy industry and with federal labs throughout the United States. These relationships are available to companies seeking growth opportunities. Serving as a technology intermediary, NHF provides entrepreneurs and businesses access to technology, technology adaptation and testing capability, design expertise, prototyping, manufacturing and field testing capability.

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