Students get a taste of life at the Laboratory

NMHU finance majors explore employment opportunities

By David Moore | May 18, 2023

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Enrique Montoya, the mentor/trainer for the Laboratory’s finance early-career mentorship program, talks to some of the New Mexico Highlands team during their visit.

A snowy spring day did not deter five students, a faculty member and a dean from New Mexico Highlands University as they got a taste of Los Alamos April 28, learning about life as a LANL employee and the accounting and finance employment opportunities at the Laboratory.

The day included a tour of parts of the Laboratory site, an outline of the range of jobs available in the finance and controller divisions, and a look at the opportunities for career development and education. The students, business and finance majors from Highlands’ School of Business, Media, and Technology, also got to meet informally with recently hired employees and with hiring managers. 

“NMHU is preparing students in areas, such as finance, that align with the skill sets LANL is seeking to fill in-demand positions,” says Veena Parboteeah, dean of the School of Business, Media, and Technology. “Our aim is for our students to learn about the career opportunities available at LANL.” 

“Many students from around New Mexico have never been to Los Alamos,” says Erika Fleetwood from the Laboratory’s finance division, who helped organize the tour in conjunction with the Community Partnerships Office and the Partnerships and Pipelines Office. “The field trips allow them to experience the drive up the Hill, tour the town and Lab sites, and meet with Laboratory leaders and managers. They also allow us to collaborate with college and university faculty and staff on what we are looking for in our finance and controller hires.” 

The finance and controller divisions have a comprehensive training and mentoring program in place for their new early career hires, where a program manager works with them for several months before they are deployed to organizations in the Laboratory to make sure they are prepared and supported as they start their careers. Since May 2022, the divisions have hired 39 early career employees.

While the students met with the hiring managers, Dean Parboteeah and faculty member Gerardo Moreira met with other Laboratory representatives to get insights into the particular skills and knowledge that will be most valuable for candidates applying for finance and accounting positions at the Lab.

One of the Laboratory staff who met the students was Benito Vigil, who himself took part in a similar visit while he was a student at Highlands in 2020. 

“After the trip, I worked twice as hard in school because I knew one day I wanted to work with bright and talented people like those I met at LANL,” he says. “Fast-forward three years, and I am attending the event not as a student but as an employee of LANL, welcoming fellow peers from NMHU!”

This is one of a series of similar visits that have taken place with Highlands and other New Mexico universities and additional visits are planned for the fall.

“This visit was a great experience for our entire group and went a long way to help our students understand the value of the hard work they’ve poured into their education — something any student can lose sight of as they get this close to the end of a long academic year,” says Parboteeah. “It also helps us ensure the courses and education we provide are in alignment with what LANL is looking for in potential employees. We look forward to our next visit and value our continued partnership with LANL.”