At age 21, Chiena Ty knew there was more she could do for the environment. A firm believer in lowering her carbon footprint, she took part in a social media install with GRID Alternatives and later joined GRID’s six week Women in Solar training program in her hometown in the Bay area. After returning to southern California to continue her studies at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), Chiena decided to apply for the Work Force and Volunteer internship with GRID Alternatives Inland Empire office (GRIDIE).
Chiena explained that her volunteer work with the Women in Solar program was extremely empowering. “I felt really comfortable around other women. It was great to be active on the roof and to install a solar panel that would help benefit a family in need,” she expressed. Though she enjoyed the programs and volunteer work she took part in, she had to overcome a few challenges. Because her field of study was more geared towards marketing and communications, Chiena felt that working as a SolarCorps intern for the Workforce and Volunteer department of GRID seemed to be a good fit for her. This internship offered her the opportunity to focus on educating others about how GRID benefits the communities they serve, and teaching students about solar energy.
Chiena believes that solar power, and its effect on societal norms, has a bright future. “With the new California law that mandates solar paneling for new construction, I believe now more people will be educated about solar. The power of the sun is free,” she stated passionately. After asking how the solar industry can become more appealing to the millennial generation, Chiena explained that most millennials do not actually own their own home yet, so it could be harder for them to see the effects of the solar industry and the impact it has on energy savings for homeowners. She also would like to see more solar gardens for large apartment complexes, where most millennials live.
After investing a year in the solar industry, Chiena is confident that volunteering with GRID was the right choice. What advice would she give to those interested in getting started? Chiena noted that the solar industry is not just all about construction or panel installations. “Just because you do the basic training for installation, does not mean that you cannot network or connect with other facets within the industry that you may not otherwise have connected with before,” she explains. “If you always have good work ethics, people will remember you and will help connect you with resources that can help provide a pathway to a career in solar.”
Chiena tells others about GRID and the successful non-profit work they are doing in communities and its inclusivity. She likes that GRID is very passionate about helping others, and hopes the work of helping families in need will continue for many years to come. If you, or someone you know, is interested in volunteering or taking part in a specific program, head on over to the GRID Alternatives volunteer page and fill out an application!