[IBT 200 First Cohort Series, Part 3] The Three Biggest Challenges of IBT 200, According to Our Graduates

Spring is near, and we’ve got fresh insight—just for you. Last month, you met our IBT 200 graduates and learned about how they arrived at GRID IE. Now, our IBT 200 graduates are sharing their most significant challenges and the bonus skills they picked up throughout the 5-week training course.

IBT 200’s curriculum is created based on the NABCEP PV Installer Specialist Job Task Analysis, an established and recognized certification organization in the renewable energy industry.

Jeffrey (He/Him/His)
Naturally, learning a new skill comes with its challenges, and Jeffrey did not hesitate to express his fear about whether or not he could be successful in a field he had no prior knowledge of. “I had to overcome my self-doubt and negativity that was trying to pull me back,” shared Jeffrey, who had difficulty mastering how to wire junction boxes and bend conduit. “It’s nerve-wracking, but it gets easier once you’re out in the field and see that your work on a client’s house is done right,” said Jeffrey. After more practice with our Construction Team on the roof, wiring junction boxes, and bending conduit quickly became Jeffrey’s favorite tasks by the end of the program!

IBT 200 trainees learning how to wire junction boxes at the CTTC.

IBT 200 trainees learning how to wire junction boxes at the CTTC.

Aside from hard skills, Jeffrey also strengthened his soft skills through workshops with our Workforce Team: “Writing a resume was something I always hated doing, and now I have much less anxiety because I had help creating it–it’s a beautiful resume now.” In addition to resume writing, Jeffrey feels more confident pitching himself to potential employers and knowing “how to research and plan for interviews—a skill that’s also needed for solar installations.” On graduation day, Jeffrey described himself as “confident and capable about my skills”—we couldn’t agree more.

Marco (He/Him/His)
During week one of the program, Marco quickly identified a potential challenge for himself: “I’m a little afraid of heights, so being the first one to put up the ladder to access the roof seems very intimidating.” Similarly to his peers, Marco experienced doubt about his abilities. Nevertheless, he put his IBT 200 skills to work in the field, and by the end of week five, Marco had successfully mounted the ladder for his crew multiple times. “Knowing that it was set up and secure gave me more confidence on the roof. I’m still a little nervous up there, but I found a way to enjoy it by focusing on the job, safety, and being able to see the world from a different perspective,” said Marco.

Among the topics that GRID IE’s Workforce Team focused their workshops on, memorization was one of them: “It’s common for different crews to have different names for the parts we use during the installation, so class exercises like matching parts to numbers really helped,” shared Marco, who worked on multiple builds where this skill came in handy with GRID IE’s Construction Team.

Rio (He/Him/His)
For Rio, the pressure was on to grasp an imperative skill that employers look for in solar installers: “Today was the first time I used a pipe bender. So far, it’s been my most difficult and frustrating day,” admitted Rio on week one. “Locking in the math for angles and the pitch of the roof has been intimidating—and we’re getting timed on it for the final exam,” shared Rio, who felt both excited and nervous about week five, which also included a solar showcase for students to display their skills to potential employers. 

Rio bending conduit on a roof at an IBT 200 single-family install training day.

Rio bending conduit on a roof at an IBT 200 single-family install training day.

"Time has helped me settle the doubts I had about myself. I no longer get ahead of myself and get the measurements wrong—I stay at the same speed as everyone else in the crew.” Not only did this benefit the team, but it allowed Rio to “observe others and develop better techniques, rather than doing something only one way.”

Teamwork quickly became a growing soft skill that Rio honed in on: “Labs for communication skills were great—especially learning how to get everyone’s input and ideas, and using them towards one goal,” shared Rio, who specifically enjoyed an exercise that tasked teams with building the strongest noodle-marshmallow structures.

There you have it, IBT 200 enthusiasts—the most significant challenges of our program, as experienced by its first graduates. Learning a new skill is never a walk in the park, but overcoming self-doubt can be accomplished through time, practice, and with the support of a professional team that's got your back. Next month, join us as we discover what comes after IBT 200!

Photo gallery.