Regional Employers Thanked For A Job Well Done

M³ partners MPS, MATC and UWM honor businesses and industries for help in creating diverse talent pipeline

Mark Feldmann,

August 28, 2023

M3 breakfast

I went from not having any idea what I wanted to do, to being shown what the real world was like.

Alejandro Tello MATC Electronic Engineering Technology graduate

For Alejandro Tello, the spark came from We Energies.

Tello, a 2019 graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools’ Ronald Reagan College Preparatory High School, admits he never gave his future much thought while in school. Then he heard about an internship program sponsored by the utility company as part of a joint education initiative called M³ (pronounced M-cubed) that connects Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (UWM).

Tello interned during his junior and senior years, earning a paycheck while learning about being a design engineer. After graduation, he received an associate degree in Electronic Engineering Technology from MATC in 2022 and went on to get a business degree at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. 

Today he’s a computer design technician for We Energies.

“You always need to have an open mind and explore as much as you can,” Tello said.

For providing Milwaukee-area students like Tello valuable opportunities to explore the working world, We Energies and more than 200 other regional businesses and industries were honored at the first M³ Employer Appreciation Breakfast on Friday, August 25, at MATC’s Downtown Milwaukee Campus.

The businesses were recognized for supporting M³ efforts by offering internships, participating in job fairs, sharing career information with students and connecting what they learn in class with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.

“Thank you for opening the doors and carving out time to help students prepare for the future of work because it’s changing all the time,” said MATC President Vicki J. Martin, Ph.D. “Doing that helps students develop career decision confidence.”

Founded in the spring of 2015, M³ aims to increase the retention, graduation and career success of Milwaukee-area students from kindergarten through college. M³ aims to lift up individuals, improve the community and build a diverse workforce pipeline.

“The problems of society are bigger than any one of us can solve,” said UWM Chancellor Mark Mone, Ph.D. “We have to work together. It’s all about forming better connections and harnessing the power of partnerships. What happens in high school really can set the stage for the future.”

MPS high schools hold two job fairs each year, said MPS Superintendent  Keith Posley, Ed.D. Last year, nearly 1,000 juniors and seniors connected with 130 employers, he said.

“Employers are the backbone of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Dr. Posely said. “We couldn’t make these connections and deliver on our mission without you.”

At the breakfast, We Energies won the inaugural M³ Paving the Way award, recognizing the company’s efforts to nurture young talent by offering high school internships, encouraging students to attend college, and providing well-paying, family-sustaining careers.

Since starting its high school internship program at MPS in 2017, the company has had 10 students graduates from MATC’s Electrical Power Distribution/Line Mechanic program, had five students earn MATC associate degrees, and have hired more than 20 area students, said Jennifer Buchanan, assistant to the president and CEO at We Energies.

“In all, we have touched more than 2,000 students through our outreach,” Buchanan said.

Tello was one of them. He wholeheartedly believes in M³. “I went from not having any idea what I wanted to do, to being shown what the real world was like,” said Tello, who is considering attending UWM to get a master’s degree. “I found out that if I worked hard enough, I could get anything I wanted in life.”

Learn about the M³ program

About MATC: Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. More than 28,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 180 academic programs — many that prepare students for jobs immediately upon completion and others that provide transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.