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Derrek Jerred


Derrek Jerred

Cloud Peak is Not Just for Engineering Students

This past summer I had the opportunity to be an intern for Cloud Peak Energy in Gillette, Wyoming in the Human Resources department. Cloud Peak is headquartered in Gillette with about 1,600 employees and is the only publicly traded company from Wyoming. In the beginning I was surprised to see that Cloud Peak did not offer JUST engineering internships, but also a myriad of business oriented internships as well.

Growing up in Gillette I have always had a great appreciation for the energy sector, especially the coal industry. That is why the selection of my internship with Cloud Peak was a pretty easy choice. Knowing their reputation in Wyoming and having benefited from their economic impact in Gillette gave me even more reassurance that I had interviewed with and was afforded the opportunity to work for a great company. However, none of this would have been possible without a lot of help from the Johnson Career Center.

There was a considerable process to getting this internship and at first I was a little hesitant to make my way into Steve Farkas’ door, because I felt that I could do this all by myself and did not need help. But after seeing Steve speak at Preparation C, I figured that I may as well test my luck.


After the first initial meeting with Steve I knew that I had to do a little homework if I really wanted this internship. The internship was in no way going to be handed to me. I had to research the company, and really think about what the company was offering and how it would fit as a career pathway. A week or two before the Fall Career Fair I made numerous appointments with Steve to begin the process of working on my resume and building the foundation it would take to have a good interview with Cloud Peak. Steve began by really getting my thoughts of what I wanted out of the internship and then trying to drill me with questions so that I would be well prepared for the interviews. Steve made me think outside the box and not be a “cookie-cutter-candidate”. Steve challenged me to remain myself while coming up with real-life examples during the interview process. Steve would always tell me that employers are constantly hearing the same stuff from all types of candidates, but you have to be different (in a good way) and try to be remembered by the company. Not putting a façable on, and acting like a know-it-all. The last thing that I would want is to show up day one and be a different person than who I interviewed as. Steve stressed this point and made sure that I was conducting myself the same as I would any other day.

Although I was classified as an “intern”, Cloud Peak Energy treated me like an actual employee within the company. Many of my duties and tasks were important to Cloud Peak; not only the company itself, but to its employee culture. Coming into the internship I was not sure what to expect, but with the help of my mentors I was able to do respectable work and be a part of the team. During the summer Cloud Peak held The College Relations Tour which I had the experience of coordinating. The College Relations Tour brought in college representatives from various schools at which Cloud Peak recruits (U.W. is one) and letting them see what goes on at Cloud Peak on a daily basis; bridging the gap between colleges and industry, gaining commitment into the future.

Another great experience I had occurred on the second day of my internship. I met the CEO and had interactions with the executive team and board of directors. I gained additional insight into the company’s operations and culture, allowing me to further evaluate my fit within the organization and further increased my desire to work for Cloud Peak.

I am very excited to see where this internship with Cloud Peak Energy takes me. Many employees within Cloud Peak have served as interns previously before taking a full time position with the company. That is why I am looking forward to next steps in my relationship with Cloud Peak Energy and would highly recommend any student interested in an energy career to pursue an internship with the company.

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