When you think of City-provided services, you likely envision firefighters racing to an emergency call, or garbage trucks picking up carts in your neighborhood. These vital services couldn't happen without vehicles and equipment supported by a team of people who are dedicated to keeping those vehicles safe and operational.
One important aspect of fleet management is data analysis, which provides the information necessary to make informed decisions on fuel consumption and maintenance decisions, which helps to optimize operations, improve driver safety, lower costs, and ultimately save taxpayer dollars.
This is where Qwinton Fontenelle, the Fleet Management Department's first intern, comes into the picture. Fontenelle is now celebrating the halfway mark in his Data Analysis internship where he examines data trends that help Fleet supervisors make decisions about how technicians can better service the more than 1,300 vehicles and equipment that are relied upon by 26 City departments to deliver their services to the community 24/7/365.
At the office, Fontenelle shadows senior Fleet leaders. "For this internship, we chose the position of Data Analyst, as it exposes individuals to several different functional areas within the department," Fleet Management Director Joe Clark said.
Fontenelle has even assisted with a customer survey for City drivers and will examine the results to improve Fleet services. "I've learned how to do my job and that Fleet is vital to City operations," Fontenelle said.
Fontenelle studies Web Development at Durham Tech, but you can call him a student of the City. He works a hybrid schedule and he's learned to use Microsoft Excel and Power BI. He also completed the Data 101 course for City employees. "The main thing I walked away with is that I need to ask questions," Fontenelle said. "Clarify, clarify and then clarify some more! This helps everyone involved."
Occasionally, you can see Fontenelle on the floors inside the Camden Avenue Fleet building where inspections are performed on vehicles. He sees his time with the department as an opportunity and milestone. "They let me use the air horn on the fire truck and it was awesome," Fontenelle said. "Eight-year-old me would be very proud."
Fontenelle's advice for students who want a City internship, "Apply. The people are awesome and the information is engaging. Most importantly, they want you to learn."
"Qwinton is a very inquisitive individual and has a bright future in whatever field he chooses to follow, " said Clark.
In the near future, Clark hopes to hire more students to expose them to the career opportunities available in fleet management.
The Fleet team is currently hiring for people who can listen to customers, weld, paint, perform mechanical repairs, and maintain service records. Fleet staff fix, outfit, and issue vehicles to police officers, firefighters, planners, solid waste collectors, and more. Fleet staffers use vehicle metrics to determine when and how to replace vehicles with newer models.
Clark says many students that consider careers in the automotive industry may choose to work at a car dealership. Still, he hopes more students will consider the Fleet Management Department for a steady and rewarding career that helps keep the City of Durham running smoothly.
If you are a local college student with an idea for how you can help the City's Fleet Management team, send an email.