Building Skills in Sustainability

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June 21, 2018

People often ask me, “What’s the difference between sustainability studies and environmental science?” The simple answer is this: Sustainability is the study of the environment in which we care about people. At GRID Alternatives, they take a multifaceted approach to climate change; decreasing our collective carbon footprint, while simultaneously increasing diversity in the workforce, empowering individuals with minimal access to resources. My name is Mikaela Kato and as a Sustainability major at University of California, Riverside (UCR) the work GRID does is not only endlessly fascinating to me, but also so extremely relevant to what I study.

I first heard about GRID when I was doing research into the solar panels at UCR. I learned UCR had partnered with GRID to provide free job training and solar systems for the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe. I was very interested in the work they did, so when I heard about potential internship openings, I leapt at the opportunity.

While with GRID, I worked as a Workforce and Volunteer Intern alongside Sandra Romero and Cindy Corrales, who are easily the best supervisors I could have imagined. When I first arrived, I was immediately impressed by the welcoming and inclusive atmosphere of the office. They are an organization that truly believes the staff they employ should reflect the people they serve. They respect and understand that everyone comes from diverse backgrounds with different life experiences, and they strive to accept everyone.

One of the projects I worked on during my internship was a participant survey. I interfaced with past and current volunteers/work trainees to gauge their thoughts on GRID’s training model. I also identified potential areas for development, and tracked individuals who utilized their GRID experience to pursue career opportunities. It was so rewarding for me to be able to speak directly to volunteers and talk about their experiences. It was amazing to hear first-hand the impact of GRID at such a personal level.

To say that the employees at GRID take pride in their work would be an understatement. Though my time at GRID was brief, I was able to build a new set of skills. Whether it be learning how to install solar panels, or mastering the various features of the copy machine, I am so grateful for my internship with GRID and the work I was able to complete. The services GRID provides has such tangible and evident impacts that it inspires me to pursue careers that drive sustainability. GRID’s commitment to their triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Employment has taught me the importance of an organization founded on the values they want to see reflected in the world around them.

If you are seeking an internship, or would like to build practical skills in the solar industry, GRID Alternatives is your solution. You will have an opportunity to develop and expand on your knowledge and skills that could lead you to a clean energy job. If you would like to know more information about internships or other volunteer opportunities, you can reach GRID’s workforce development department by calling 951.272.4743 or visit gridalternatives.org/ie.