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Water WORCs in Appalachia

A summer internship opportunity for high school or community/technical college students and other new entrants to the workforce to gain experience in the drinking water and wastewater industry. 

Supported by the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) Initiative. 

The goal of the WaterWORCs program is to encourage students in high school, technical school, or college to pursue careers in the water sector in their rural, Appalachian communities, many of whom need qualified technical staff.

As a first step toward this goal, WaterWORCs has established a pilot program to offer water and wastewater operator internship opportunities in the following Appalachian counties:

·       McDowell County, West Virginia

·       Boyd County, Kentucky

·       Greene and Cocke Counties, Tennessee

·       Wise County, Virginia

The internship program will consist of paid, work-based learning placements with local water and wastewater utilities in each community for high school and secondary/technical school students or other new entrants to the workforce during the summers of 2024, 2025, and 2026. In most cases, time accrued in these internship positions can be used to meet the experience requirements for certification of water professionals in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, thus students completing the program will be well-qualified to pursue careers in the water sector.


All applicants must have completed their sophomore year of high school or be enrolled in a GED program or equivalent by summer 2024 and must not have previously worked a full time job for more than twelve consecutive months. Applicants must reside in one of the counties listed below OR reside close enough that they are able to travel to the county for work.

To learn more about eligibility and requirements, please refer to the table below.


Will report to:


Minimum Age (as of program start)

Hours Worked**

Deadline to Apply

McDowell County, WV

McDowell County Public Service District, Coalwood, WV

June 3 – August 9, 2024


200 hours (average 20 hours per week over 10 weeks)

April 1

Boyd County, KY

City of Ashland, KY

May 23 – August 28, 2024


40 hours per week over 12 weeks

April 30

Greene County, TN

Greenville Water Commission or Old Knox Highway Utility District

June 3 – August 9, 2024


40 hours per week over 10 weeks

April 30

Cocke County, TN

Newport Utilities

June 3 – August 9, 2024


40 hours per week over 10 weeks

April 30

Wise County, VA


June 3 – August 9, 2024


40 hours per week over 10 weeks

April 1

*Dates may be adjusted to accommodate school schedules that conflict with the program start/end dates

**1 week unpaid vacation permitted

***Minimum age may vary based on utility


Click here to apply!


Project Partners

City of Ashland logo

KY RWA logo

Reconnecting McDowell logo

UT logo

UK logo

VT logo

WV RWA logo