Chelsey Seawell has worked for Xcel Energy for seven years. She started in the Natural Gas department, and then moved over to the Electrical Construction Distribution department about three years ago. As a Senior Associate, her responsibilities include processing paperwork when jobs come in, dispatching crews for storm work, and managing safety and special supply orders. Shortly after transferring to her current position, Chelsey realized, “I needed more of a technical background to fully understand what was going on with the paperwork I processed.”
To help with this, she enrolled in the online Electrical Power Technology (ELPW) Associate’s degree program through Bismarck State College. “My father also worked for Xcel (he has since retired), and knew several folks who also completed the program,” Chelsey said, also noting that, “everyone highly recommended it.” Chelsey completed her degree in December 2014.
The fact that the program was online was extremely beneficial in balancing her work and family life. In fact, she was able to have her baby during her final semester and not miss a beat. “I was able to work ahead as much as I could. I took a week off when I had the baby, and then finished up my class.” She admits the timing wasn’t ideal, but the flexibility the online program provided was what made it possible.
Chelsey has already found the knowledge she gained has helped her in her current role. “Often, when one of the crew guys is explaining something to me, I will remember reading about it, and now I’m seeing it in real life.” Looking ahead, Chelsey also sees her new degree as a way to advance within the company. “I’d like to stay with my department and move up to a supervisor role and move into more of the work coordination. Having the technical background is an important step for me in that direction.”