Freeport Interns Learn Value of Pitching In

August 1, 2022
Green Valley News

Cameron Sexton, a University of Arizona electrical engineering student, grew up surrounded by mining.

He’s the fifth generation of mining in his family, and the third generation at Freeport-McMoRan.

“I actually grew up in one of our sites for 15 years, the Morenci operations site,” he said. “My dad grew up there his whole life, his dad grew up there his whole life, his dad….so especially on my dad’s side of the family it's always kind of been in our blood and I always knew as a kid I wanted to do engineering. It’s what my dad does, it’s what my grandpa does.”

This summer Sexton, 21, is participating for the second time in Freeport’s internship program, which gives college students the opportunity to learn and participate with the company.

“They provide a lot of opportunities for not only people in mining, academics, chemical engineering, plenty of opportunities for mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering and everywhere in between,” he said. “I've heard nothing but good things growing up and being involved with this company my whole life so I thought it would be a no brainer to intern with them.”

Sexton said the program has been a good companion to what he’s learning in school.

“I've gotten to learn how we deal with such high power, how to stay safe out here. That’s a big goal for us and how we can operate this equipment and make sure people are staying safe and things operate efficiently,” he said. "It’s all kinds of new calculations, programs to use to help us out in the field that I never used before but they have helped me a lot along the way to get more experience.”

“It's been really good for me personally to have both sides of electrical engineering, now both from a schooling standpoint and real life experience.”

Jessica Brack-Merrill, manager of social responsibility for Freeport, said internships are open to full-time college students at four-year universities or recent graduates and generally run from May to August.

“An internship with Freeport-McMoRan provides practical experience, expands skills and enhances knowledge while providing a great foundation for a career,” she said. “Interns are part of the Freeport-McMoRan team, working on meaningful, relevant projects together with our talented industry professionals.”

Along with hands-on learning opportunities for the 17 students finishing up the internship now at the Sierrita Mine in Green Valley, Freeport also wants its interns to give back to their community.

“We believe it is important for interns to understand the company’s commitment to social performance, and volunteering allows them to experience one element of community engagement first hand by working with community partners, lending time and talent, and understanding the collaboration needed between the company and the communities in which we operate," Brack-Merrill said.

Freeport Human Resources Lead Bryan Valdez manages the internship program and was a volunteer in 2019.

He said they saw the Sahuarita Food Bank and Community Resource Center as a great place to have interns volunteer for two days.

“Interns were tasked with greeting clients, sorting food, stocking shelves, distributing food and retrieving shopping carts,” he said. “This was a great volunteer opportunity, and we are glad we were able to make a difference in people’s lives – one filled shopping cart at a time.”

Valdez said the food bank partnership was easy to create, and regular volunteers and staff there were appreciative. It was also a chance for the interns to build rapport among each other.

“At the end of day, we hope the interns realize we really were making a difference whether it was one or two days,” he said. “Overall, what we were trying to do is give back to the community and we are really thankful to the food bank for accepting us and teaching us what they do.”

For Sexton, giving back through volunteering at the food bank felt rewarding and reinforced for him Freeport’s commitment to the communities where their mines are located.

“At the food bank, one thing they told us in the beginning that really stuck with me is that unfortunately there's a lot of people in this world we take for granted,” he said. “We can go and say, ‘I want to go eat out tonight,’ or ‘I have 30 different options of where I want to eat and I can be as picky as I want with the food I want,’ and unfortunately there's a lot of people in our community that don't have that opportunity and are just trying to make ends meet.”

“To be able to help out in some small way, to just provide back to the community was a really good opportunity for me and it was really fun working with the people at the food bank.”

Because the internship program creates a pipeline to careers, Sexton is planning to work full time for Freeport once he graduates.

“It’s really good for me to see a lot of the different sites and really figure out what I want to do with the company so I reached out to them and said I'm all for it,” he said. "I'm hoping when I graduate to stay here and work for the company, continue my career in this business because it's a really exciting business and it's something we see and use every day.”

For anyone interested in more information on the internship program or other job opportunities, visit

Interns can come from a variety of disciplines like engineering, human resources and business.

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