Westar Energy CEO talks internships, employment

Evan Pflugradt

Some Wichita State students found out from an expert of a local company what it takes to be successful.

CEO of Westar Energy Mark Ruelle was featured in the Exec Connect lunch series Wednesday, hosted by the Wichita State Career Development Center.

Ruelle said students need to develop the will and desire to be problem-solvers, and intellectual curiosity is required to do that for a future with Westar.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Admissions Office also sponsored the event.

Westar, with its corporate office in El Dorado, has a long tradition of working with WSU students. Ruelle said WSU is one of the first places Westar looks when hosting new internship applicants.

Ruelle emphasized that when it comes to hiring new applicants, no skill is greater than experience.

“I cannot think of anything more essential than getting an internship in college,” Ruelle said. “Internships are a 10-week long interview where you get to learn just as much about us as we do about you.”

Ruelle said Westar extends full-time jobs to about 75 percent of its interns.

Westar sponsors 50 summer internship positions, but the hiring process occurs in October for the 2016 summer internship program.

Westar accepts applicants who are college sophomores, juniors or seniors.

Ruelle said Westar positions require a lot of technical skill, but Ruelle conveys to students that they will educate interns about what to know if they have the desire to learn.

“We hire smart, technically skilled individuals and train them into the positions we need them to be,” he said.

He said the biggest difficulty for college students is trying to find a balance between work and life.

“Have a plan, but be willing to relax for a bit,” he said. “You can’t be all-in on your job all the time.”

Westar offers benefits to employees, which include hourly wages starting at $15 an hour, tuition reimbursement for up to $5,800 a year and paid vacation and sick time.

The deadline to apply for Westar summer internships is Oct. 11. Contact the Career Development Center at 978-3688 for more information.