In a few short weeks, hundreds of young people from our service area will be walking across a stage, collecting their diplomas and entering the next phase of their lives. It’s a time of important decisions and big opportunities. Some of these young people will continue their education at a college or trade school. We in electric cooperative service areas are fortunate to have several higher education institutions nearby.
These local schools provide graduates with a solid education and the foundation to build a great career.
Others will enter the workforce, securing a job at a local factory, beginning an apprenticeship program or taking a position with a family business. A career in the trades can provide abundant opportunities and serious job security.
When I graduated high school, my focus was on one thing: finding a career that would allow me to provide for my family. Earning potential seemed very important at the time, and most of my decisions were based on that.
Earning potential is certainly an important consideration, but I challenge this year’s graduates to consider something I completely overlooked at their age: finding a career with purpose.
Each day, Tennessee’s electric cooperatives work to keep the lights on for 2.5 million people across the state. It is not always easy work, but at the end of the day, our teams go home knowing they have helped make the communities we serve better places to live.
In the modern economy, everything depends on a reliable supply of energy — healthcare to education and manufacturing to commerce. If we don’t do our jobs, hospitals can’t perform surgeries, cell phones stop working and factories screech to a halt. The responsibility is big, but that’s one of the many reasons our employees take such pride in their work.
We have a mighty purpose — to provide an essential service to our communities. The rewards of our work go beyond paychecks and vacation time.
My message to this year’s graduates is this: Whether you continue your education or enter the workforce, pursue a career with purpose. Find your own, unique way to make a difference for the people around you, and you will never look back with regret.
At the risk of getting ahead of ourselves — we know how that last semester of your senior year can be — Tennessee’s electric cooperatives extend our congratulations to the class of 2020. We are excited for the opportunities that lie ahead for you. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be a part of the team at the local co-op.