In Her Own Words: Katharine Johnston


March 24, 2014

By Katharine Johnston, GRID Alternatives volunteer.

With a couple years of personal study under my belt, and the continued thirst for knowledge in the field of energy and electricity, I wanted something more. Two of my friends referred me to GRID Alternatives to further my studying with some real hands-on solar installation experience.

Being at the install and not knowing everything is what it’s all about. There are so many volunteers at GRID. A few will be new, but many are just brimming with knowledge and experience to share. You end up asking so many questions, that by the end of the day, your brain is fully saturated! After just four installs with GRID, I gained tons of confidence. My familiarization with job-site vocabulary, trade specific tools, and safety has been useful every day. 

Sometimes, after an install, I would come home so amped that I would share my day with my house-mates. A roommate, who had been listening to my progress, recommended me to his electrician friend.  After demonstrating my ability and aptitude, I am now a third prospective owner of the up-and-coming company, Pacific Electric.

If you’re looking for a job in the industry, talk with not only other volunteers, but also employees at GRID. Let people know your long-term goals. They’re looking to help you! On top of the hands-on training you receive on the installs, you should be keeping up with all of the book learning. Get involved with your local skills center, take some technical classes, or form study groups to share information and brainstorm!

Without GRID, I wouldn’t have had the hands-on skills and confidence to secure a job. I’m now working my dream job with some of the best people you could meet. Special thanks to Adewale and Jose!

From time to time GRID GLA invites volunteers, homeowners and other community members to contribute to our blog. As part of our Women in Solar Initiative, we would also like to highlight the efforts of women in GRID Alternatives. If you or someone you know, would like to share a story, please email