Job training success: Trainee Nathan Ruiz speaks about his role in the private sector

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October 05, 2018
Installation team members celebrate on a roof

GRID Alternatives excels at making our communities better by providing solar energy access to those who would otherwise not have access to it. In the process of fulfilling our mission, we train and develop people's abilities. This aspect of our model – our Workforce Development initiatives – has helped hundreds of people gain experience and employment in the solar space since 2012.

Nathan Ruiz, 28, is one of the success stories that the GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles team has had the pleasure of contributing to. Recently, Ruiz landed a job as a Solar Installer with Tesla Solar after attending our spring Career Fair. "I found solar by mistake," Ruiz says. "I wanted to work with electrical, but solar was available [first]. I tried it, liked it, and stuck with it." Now in his fifth month with Tesla as an installer, his solar career is taking off.

Many of Ruiz's instructors recommended GRID Alternatives as an organization to gain experience. After training with GRID, he accepted an invitation from Adewale OgunBadejo, Workforce Development Manager, to attend our hiring event on the Los Angeles Trade Technical College campus, sponsored by the Solar Training Network and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. When he saw that Tesla was amongst of the many companies present, Ruiz decided to apply—and he received an offer on the spot! Ruiz credits the Solar Installation Supervisors at GRID, as well as the staff who work alongside them, for preparing him to make the leap to the largest installer of residential solar panels in the United States.

Ruiz's success story isn't unique. GRID Alternatives allows those who come out on installs with us to gain experience on all levels of a build. "GRID provided me the opportunity to learn a lot about the line of work, which made the transition to Tesla easier," Ruiz explains. "When I got to my current job they put me on installation, where I have one job and can get really proficient in it. If [they] ask me to do extra I know I've been trained on it."

Making the transition from the nonprofit environment to full-time work in the for-profit sector has given him perspective. "The pressure is different," Ruiz says. "Sometimes there's a lot more of it." For-profit companies tend to work in more volume. Because of that, Ruiz says, the work is a lot different. And proficiency in one area is still valued over being well-rounded.

But with Nathan now on his way to career growth at Tesla, he's one of the many success stories to have participated in the training programs GRID Alternatives offers. Our job training efforts, led by David Andrade, help ensure that participants get the right set of skills and are as prepared as they can possibly be for for well-paying opportunities afterward. Installation Basics Training, specialized workshops, and a robust menu of other options mean that career resources for every side of the solar industry are offered. For more information, contact traininggla@gridalternatives.org.


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