Internship paved the way for rewarding career
In the past decade, Todd Blake has gone from intern to information technology manager, building his career at a place that promotes professional growth so much, it’s written into performance evaluations.
“I’m not directly providing people with water, but even though I’m the computer guy, in one way shape or form, I’m making a big difference,” said Todd Blake, IT application manager at Denver Water. “It’s an honorable position.”
Blake grew up in Utah as the youngest of six kids. His dad had studied naval science in college, but when he returned from military service in Vietnam, he changed course and began working in computer science.
“I get my love of technology from my dad,” Blake said. “He’d get an assignment and get so excited that he’d run to the computer room — back then, computers were so big they had a whole room — and get started.”
His family always had computers at home, including one of the first models, an Apple Macintosh with a 2 ½-inch floppy disk drive. And, like most kids in the 1980s, he spent plenty of time playing Nintendo, Atari and Sega video games.
“But I never really thought about making tech into a career,” he said. “I had planned to go to med school.”
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Blake graduated from Utah Valley University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and another in software design. He got married and moved to Colorado, where he studied endocrinology in medical school while his wife worked as a nurse.
The grueling and dueling schedules of a med student and nurse met the newlyweds could go almost a week without seeing each other.
“It was a real struggle trying to imagine myself in the medical field when I had so many other things I prioritized more than my career,” he said. “My relationship with my wife, a future family — all of these things.”
A friend and Denver Water employee suggested he pause medical school and try an internship with Denver Water’s IT department, doing quality assurance for a new project that would help crews in the field submit and receive work orders.
“I always wanted to have a job that was steady,” Blake said. “A utility is about as steady as jobs come.”
Soon, he and his wife found out a baby was on the way, and Blake had to make a big choice: Finish medical school, with its difficult work-life balance, or change career paths and work at Denver Water.
“I threw all my eggs in one basket and signed on at Denver Water,” he said.
When his internship ended, he joined Denver Water as a temporary employee in IT and then started moving his way up: business analyst, senior business analyst, team leader, and now his current position as application manager. He credits those promotions to a culture at Denver Water that encourages professional growth and development by helping employees earn advanced degrees, attend trainings and obtain professional certifications.
From temp to intern to full-time employee, how this employee did it.
In his current role, Blake oversees several computer applications to run the business, from payroll to project administration to content management.
“You sit down with people and see what they do and hear about their jobs and their struggles,” he said. “Then you come up with solutions to fix them. We’re moving forward together, and they’re not just on an island trying to solve their own problems.”
Now the father of five is finishing his Master of Business Administration, with the help of Denver Water’s tuition reimbursement program, and is forever grateful for that first internship that set his life on a different path.
“The mission of Denver Water is something really grand and really awesome,” he said. “I’m so honored to be part of something so important, a natural resource that brings life. Water really is life.”