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Southern Power co-op student paves the way for others

<p>Southern Power Company co-op student Laura Ferrer feels right at home in the workplace, thanks in large part to her haven, The Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE).</p>
<p>Southern Company is proud to be listed by Hispanic Network on the Top Employer for Hispanics list, because diversity in the workplace has always been a priority value of the premier energy company.</p>
<p>“Southern Power employees have such different backgrounds. This inspires and motivates me, knowing that there is something here for me,” Laura said.</p>
<p>Laura always had her mind set on becoming a professional engineer, but it wasn’t until her co-op experience with Southern Power that she zeroed in on her path to that career goal.</p>
<p>Since her freshman year at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville majoring in civil engineering, Laura has been an active member of SHPE, an organization that empowers the Hispanic community and encourages professional engineers to serve as leaders in their field and communities. In fact, it was the organization that led her to Southern Company.</p>
<p>Laura described her first position with the organization as bridging the gap between recruiters and students in the program by planning meet-and-greets. Through these sessions with representatives from corporations and SHPE students, she kept running into a Southern Company recruiter and began learning more about the innovative gas and electric utility company. Not long after a few conversations, Laura was drawn to the co-op program because of how Southern Company values safety and honesty in the workplace.</p>
<p>Now a senior, Laura had the opportunity to serve in a lot of positions for SHPE and better her leadership skills along the way. “I am very proud that I’ve had the opportunity to represent them. SHPE has been a source of family, connections and strength,” she explained.</p>
<p>Through Laura’s co-op rotations, she worked on decommissioning, siting a few projects, and geographical information system, while getting a wide range of experience at many of the subsidiaries. Specifically, she found her niche with the exposure to renewables like wind and solar.</p>
<p>Laura is most proud of the opportunity of getting to travel all over the country with some of the wind turbine acquisitions. She catalogued each turbine and inspected them in person. She traveled to states she had never been: Colorado, Iowa, Texas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.</p>
<p>Laura could not be any more thankful to have had the opportunity to co-op with Southern Company, but she owes it all to her University of Tennessee at Knoxville SHPE roots.</p>
<p>“SHPE has given me the confidence I’ve needed to get a position at Southern Power Company, and I feel like working here was meant to be,” she said.</p>