From intern to director of engineering, Tyler Harriett says his full-circle journey with North Carolina’s electric cooperatives has brought him back to his roots.
“I was in the boy scouts growing up, and I served as a sergeant in the Marine Corps, so service to the community has always been in my blood,” said Harriett. “The co-ops gave me a chance to expand that impact and continue to serve the members in my community every day.”
Where It All Started
In 2017, Harriett was only scratching the surface of his career in energy when he showed up for the first day of his internship. As a distribution system engineer intern, the then college student was one of the few lucky interns selected to spend an entire summer at one of North Carolina’s 26 distribution cooperatives.
While he was excited about the opportunity when he arrived at Halifax EMC’s facilities, Harriett could not help but wonder, ‘What kind of impact will I make here.’ He would soon find out this internship would set him up for a career with the cooperatives where Harriett continues to make an impact to this day.
“My internship was very hands-on, I was out in the field most days and was working on solving real world problems alongside our system engineers,” said Harriett. “I do feel like I was able to significantly contribute to solutions for Halifax EMC during my internship, some of the things I worked on are still in-service and being used today.”
“No Where Else I’d Rather Be”
Harriett says working with an electric co-op was a goal of his while in school. He says his parents were members of Pantego-based Tideland EMC, and during his time as a student at East Carolina University, he was fortunate to receive a scholarship from North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. When he walked across the stage at his college graduation, Harriett says he knew where he wanted to be next.
“I did not want to work anywhere else, I wanted to be a part of the good work that the cooperatives do, and I don’t think that will ever change,” said Harriett.
Harriett’s journey would bring him back to the cooperatives at the statewide level working as an engineer in the grid infrastructure division, helping maintain and enhance the reliable system that is delivering electricity for cooperative members across the state.
The highlight of his five-year career with the cooperatives, however, came when he returned to Halifax EMC to serve in his current role. Harriett says it was a special moment coming back to where his career started.
Leading the Next Generation
This summer Halifax EMC welcomed back their first intern since the pandemic, and Harriett says he had the honor of collaborating with the student. In what felt like a ‘full circle moment’ for the former intern turned employee, Harriett says he made sure to share one message.
“I was able to tell him that not that long ago I was in his shoes and in a couple of years they could be in mine,” said Harriett. “I was determined to instill that same spark in him that I felt when interning with the cooperatives, and I hope to see him again in the future as a peer of mine.”
North Carolina’s electric cooperatives continue invest in education with internships at the statewide and local level, and over the years many of those former interns have come back to fill full-time positions. Harriett says this investment in education is a testament to the electric co-ops’ dedication to both its members and the broader community.