When Erik Holck first met Todd Hamlin in 1997, they were summer interns at Denver Water. Twenty-three years later, both are now full-time employees — and friends.
In May 1997, Holck started an internship doing a drainage study of the High Line Canal. He was a civil engineering student at the University of Colorado Denver at the time and was hired as an intern with another classmate.
“We didn’t have a computer, but we were doing computer modeling,” Holck said. “Our boss was one of the first people at Denver Water to have an email address, so as an early adopter of technology, she made sure we eventually got a computer.”
The two had to share it, and it wasn’t much of a computer, with the screen occasionally turning purple.
Shortly after the computer arrived, Holck met Hamlin, a computer technician intern who worked at the Information Technology help desk for Engineering.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that purple screen,” Hamlin said. “It was one of the first issues I worked on as an intern and the first time I met Erik.”
Hamlin made it a point to get Holck and his fellow intern not only a new screen, but their own computers.
“I’m not kidding when I say that was a milestone in our careers,” Holck said.
Things went so well in his internship that Holck ended up staying longer than expected, eventually interviewing for a full-time job.
Holck is now a senior engineer and has formerly worked as a materials lab manager, an engineering manager in construction and as a design engineer.
Hamlin is now an infrastructure technician in IT.
Both can’t say enough good things about their experiences as interns and how those jobs launched their careers.
Holck thought he’d use his civil engineering skills for building design, but quickly learned as an intern that a career in the water industry was much more than he expected.
“I realized the diversity of projects was so cool, since we could work on dams and pump stations and other construction projects,” Holck said.
“The variety of potential projects was something I wouldn’t see anywhere else.”
That’s one of the elements that has remained as Denver Water’s internship program has evolved over the years. Interns tell Denver Water they appreciate the opportunity to gain practical experience.
Karen Hoppestad, senior talent specialist, leads the internship program.
Every year, about 30 summer interns are hired and given projects to complete.
“We want these students to get in and do the day-to-day work to see what really happens in the water industry, regardless of if they’re a freshman or a graduate student,” Hoppestad said.
Hoppestad is thrilled that interns become ambassadors for Denver Water after they complete their internships.
“It’s really common for us to hear from a candidate that they knew someone who had an internship with us and loved it,” Hoppestad said. “Ideally, we love to recruit successful interns as full-time employees.”
That’s exactly what happened for both Holck and Hamlin.
“A job opened up during my internship, but I was focused on finishing college and wasn’t interested,” Hamlin said.
“Then a friend told me I was nuts for passing up that opportunity, so I went to my supervisor and asked if I could still apply. The answer was ‘absolutely,’ so I applied and got the job. I’m so grateful I did.”
Hamlin eventually finished his studies and earned his college degree using Denver Water’s tuition reimbursement program.
Holck also used the tuition reimbursement program to further his education, earning a master’s degree in civil engineering.
Over the years, Holck and Hamlin have remained close friends through collaborating on shared projects at work, as well as playing golf and going to Broncos games.
“We grew up together a bit,” Holck said. “Both in work and in life.”
“I’m so happy our internship program is thriving,” Hamlin said.
“Without my internship, my life would have been so different. I wouldn’t have the friendships I have today and a wonderful family at Denver Water.”