PG&E Solar Internship Puts Volunteer to Work


December 24, 2012

Courtney Dittmar was thrilled the day she took home her orange Team Leader shirt. For months she had been commuting by bus, train, bike and foot to get to installs in Richmond, Oakland and San Francisco from her home in Mountain View, and she finally had something to show for it. But it got even better. That same day she got the call that she had been selected as the first GRID Alternatives PG&E Solar Intern, one of four who will be working at GRID offices across the state in the coming year thanks to a partnership between GRID and the utility.

“That was a really great day,” said Courtney.

At 44, Courtney is in the midst of a major career change. She spent the first part of her life immersed in books, first working at a book store, then a public library, and then, for nine years at the Stanford Math and Computer Science Library.

But desk work was not her passion, so when she got laid off from Stanford in 2009, she decided to try something new. She heard about GRID from a friend and started volunteering. Now, after over two years without steady employment, she’s hoping she’ll be able to start a real career in solar.

“This is the most fun I’ve ever had in a job,” said Courtney. “My favorite part is the finish work. I love being out with the volunteers, but it’s even better when a small group of us goes back a couple days later to finish up. That’s when I’m the one who’s really learning.”

The internship has given me a whole new skill set,” she said, “and as someone changing careers in mid-life that’s really handy. I definitely have more options now!”