John Janes, veteran of the U.S. military, reflects on his experience as a Troops to Solar intern. GRID's Troops to Solar initiative, supported by Wells Fargo, provides solar industry workforce training to U.S. military veterans and active service members across the country.
Before I started the Troops to Solar internship, I never even considered solar installation as an option due to my inexperience in this profession. My belief was that it would be too difficult to learn the skill sets without having prior carpentry experience.
When my Veteran’s Affair job specialist initially brought this opportunity to my attention, I was excited yet also hesitant. He told me that I would be a good candidate for the position and would vouch for me to be accepted. After a couple of days to think it over, I decided to make the commitment to learn solar installation and accept the opportunity to turn it into something beneficial for not just me, but others as well.
When I went to the GRID Alternatives website for the first time, I was happy to see that GRID extended their help internationally, as well as focusing their help on low-income families. The families getting solar installed were able to lower the cost of their electricity, as well as, introducing an environmentally safer way to power their home. I immediately started thinking of how useful solar could be in other countries, especially the less developed areas, such as the Philippines where I reside six months out of the year.
My first five weeks at GRID gave me a thorough classroom and hands on training in solar installation. I was amazed that I could be installing solar panels on roofs of actual homes. Meeting the homeowners gave me a sense of pride that I didn’t expect. I learned so much, so quickly, and I gained confidence in area that just a few weeks earlier seemed unthinkable. The staff here at GRID have been very supportive throughout the whole training process, from outreach and volunteerism, to the installations themselves.
I look at my experience at GRID as a once in a lifetime opportunity. An opportunity that opens up to very promising directions.