Paid Internships Jump Start Current CV Tech Students’ Careers

Brothers Jonathan and Benjamin Mason are among more than a dozen CV Tech students participating in paid internships.

Benjamin and Jonathan Mason never dreamed of making money for going to school.

The brothers, both of Piedmont, enrolled at Canadian Valley Technology Center’s El Reno Campus in Fall 2022. Graduation is firmly in view for both this May. Until then, both are enjoying paid internships at area businesses.

Benjamin Mason, 22, is enrolled in CV Tech’s Automotive Service program. He recently started an internship at Frontier Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, of El Reno. He attends class at CV Tech each morning and reports to work at noon each day in the auto dealer’s service department for a five-hour shift.

“It’s technician work,” he said. “They already know what’s wrong with each car before I start working. If I need help, I have a mentor nearby to help me.”

Job duties have included pulling transmissions to work on clutches or flywheels, replacing spark plugs and repairing suspensions and brakes. The pay is $16 per hour. Mason said he envisions a long-term future in the industry.

Jonathan Mason, 20, is enrolled in CV Tech’s Industrial Automation program. His internship also involves cars but in a different capacity. He is one of three CV Tech students who were hired in December as assemblers at Canoo. The electrical vehicle maker occupies the former Terex plant on Interstate 40 near Morgan Road, in west Oklahoma City. Canoo is now headquartered in Bentonville, Ark. The company is partly owned by Walmart Inc.

He said the work there is similar to what he has been learning in class at CV Tech, such as electrical controls, robotic automation and programmable logic controls (PLCs – computers that automate industrial processes, such as assembly lines).

Canoo’s salaries are not made public, but a recent corporate news release stated their manufacturing workforce earns about 37% above the local average for similar jobs. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows the median income (half earned more, half less) for auto assemblers and fabricators is $18.24 per hour or nearly $38,000 per year.

Mason started the internship just a few days before Christmas 2023. He said the work includes programming robots to weld parts.

“Canoo has over 100 robots, and they are way bigger than the ones we have at school,” he said. “I also assemble the chassis, or frame. We work a lot too with PLCs. They have a bunch of them there.”

The boys’ father, Troy Mason, said both of his sons have worked hard at everything with which they are involved.

“As a father, it is very satisfying to see this continue at Canadian Valley,” he said. “I know very well that if not for dedicated and experienced teachers neither would not be where they are today. I have two other sons who are graduates from Canadian Valley. They also became interns, and today are very successful due in part from training received without debt.

“I encourage every parent to consider the opportunity presented from Canadian Valley for those willing to give it their best.”

Internships are not to be confused with lengthier registered apprenticeships, which must meet strict criteria, such as being industry driven. Apprenticeships feature a more structured training plan which includes the presence of a mentor. Apprenticeships also must guarantee progressive wage increases as skills increase. Upon completion of an apprenticeship, each student receives a portable, nationally recognized credential which is validated by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Internships are less restrictive and can be paid or unpaid. Typically, they provide career exploration and a learning experience leading for new skills in three months or less. Currently, 15 CV Tech students are interning at 10 different area companies, also including Best Co., Harness Digital Solutions, Kris Keiser, CPA, Oklahoma Counseling, Patterson UTI, Penske, TCMS Inc. and TruNorth Insurance.

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