"Now is the time" to pursue training in solar energy
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SolarReviews interviews two SEI students on how they have transformed their professional careers while contributing to a more sustainable future. They share their experiences in the program and how it helped them become experts in solar energy. If you are interested in a career in renewable energy, don't miss out on this inspiring interview!
Just a few weeks ago SolarReviews announced the renewal of its partnership with Solar Energy International (SEI), an organization whose goal is to promote a diverse, inclusive, and highly skilled workforce in solar energy. SolarReviews financed the training of 22 Spanish-speaking students living in the U.S. last year in collaboration with SEI. This year's goal is to double this number to continue contributing towards equal access to renewable energy.
Here at SolarReviews, we wanted to learn about the experience of two students who have benefited from the scholarships this past year: Judith Maria Diaz Cabera and Julieth Tarazona.
Having lived in the U.S. for five and seven years respectively, both Judith and Julieth already had education and experience in similar fields in their country of origin. Still, for both of them, SEI's courses have been a great resource to integrate into the country fully.
Judith, who comes from a nuclear energy background, spent 12 years in Guatemala contributing to renewable energy education. When she arrived in the U.S., she faced a situation many immigrants encounter; language as a major obstacle.
"Even if I have the best profile in the world, it doesn't do me any good because the language doesn't help me. So I had to find other opportunities, other paths," says Judith, who initially enrolled in the SEI program because she wanted to start her own solar energy business. She has not only been able to expand her knowledge in this area, but the program has also helped her adapt to the U.S. "It was an incredible experience, I can tell you, it has helped me beyond belief to integrate myself in this country, which is rather complicated."
On the other hand, Julieth is an electrical engineer who graduated from the University of Colombia and has lived in the U.S. for seven years. Although it took some time to find work as an engineer in the country, she eventually started working for a company with clients in the solar energy generation industry.
Julieth is happy to tell us how she found a great opportunity in SEI's courses: "I took it, and it has helped me a lot. It's one of the best I've done, and I've been designing solar systems for three years now, and I want to keep taking courses."
Image source: SolarEnergy.org
One thing that both students emphasize about the program is the fact that anyone, regardless of their education or previous knowledge, can take SEI courses and benefit from them. This is a fundamental aspect of making solar energy accessible and is an excellent opportunity for any Spanish speaker who wants to expand their knowledge and pursue a career in the solar industry.
Julieth explains it this way: "I, as an electrical engineer, learned what a solar panel was, something that wasn't taught to me in college. It's something relatively new.[SEI courses] teach you everything, from what a solar panel is, to the sun's position on the planet, the different times of day, latitude, altitude, etc. A lot of terminology that is not from engineering. Anyone can join the program. It's fabulous because it teaches you from scratch."
Additionally, programs are taught by industry professionals, installers, inspectors, and designers who work or have worked in the industry, making the training practical with teachers who have real-life experiences. Judith emphasizes that "these specialists have a lot of experience in the field, but they are good academics as well. They have this combination. Believe me; it's spectacular."
Julieth adds, "There are different levels, and you move from one level to the next. You have the opportunity to visit a lab and work. They install the panels and teach you absolutely everything. And with the certification they give you, you can easily get a job in this industry. Would I recommend it? Yes, I highly recommend it to all those people who like to be outdoors, who like to be active, who enjoy this area."
Another very important consideration when entering the solar energy industry is to have connections. It's not just about gaining technical knowledge - SEI training can provide you with lasting connections, both professional and personal.
Courses, like those from SEI, can become a useful tool to find employment and suppliers or to simply learn about the experiences of people in situations similar to yours.
Julieth shares with us how, thanks to these courses, she keeps in touch with women in the industry.
Image source: SolarEnergy.org
"As a result of the course I took, I have connections with a group of women who attended the program. And there are many women there who have started their own businesses. There are others who are just independent, they work on their own, and they all post pictures of their jobs to encourage each other. They post open jobs, and we are getting organized to grow the number of women in this field that is traditionally considered to be for men. But not anymore,” she explains.
Julieth highlights the warm welcome from solar energy companies to women starting out in this sector: "Women are being respected in this field. Women who work alongside a number of men are being given their place and are respected as other members of the team. Things are becoming more equal now."
Also, Julieth makes a very specific appeal "especially to women, I call on [women] to take these courses because although there are more of us every day, we are still few. The support that is being given to women is tremendous. In general, if you are a woman, companies will more likely invite you to apply. So I encourage everyone, but especially women."
When Judith and Julieth were asked if there was anything they would like to tell future students, they both agreed that it is a good time to be trained in solar energy. "People are needed in all areas: design, installation, you name it," explains Julieth.
"This is the industry's year.” Judith added, “It is the year when everything that is needed for solar energy to succeed is in place: government support, tax incentives, prices, etc. I think people who are educated in any area within the solar energy industry are going to be very successful. The industry is at the top of its game."
If you want to find success within the solar industry, apply for the scholarship here.