When Kaly applied for the GRID SolarCorps Construction Fellowship, she was just perusing Craigslist for a job training opportunity that would keep a roof over her and her mom's head while gaining valuable skills.
“After three months in, I realized, ‘I’m in love with this organization.'”
Why? She loves GRID’s mission. Kaly grew up in poverty (low-income) herself. She is a first generation high school graduate. If her family had been able to save money each month on their electricity bill, it would have helped significantly, perhaps getting them off food stamps and welfare.
“Working at GRID is a reminder of where I came from. I have an actual understanding of the kind of impact saving on bills can have on a family.”
Always eager for the next challenge, Kaly has taken her original training and turned solar into a career. She continued her AmeriCorps term a second year and moved from the North Valley office to the Central Coast office. Her third year at GRID, she was promoted to Residential Solar Installation Supervisor, helping to start the Salinas satellite office. After getting that office running, Kaly wanted a different professional challenge. She moved to the East Coast where the solar installations are technically different to serve as Mid-Atlantic’s Multifamily Solar Installation Supervisor. Since then she has been building up her certifications, speaking at policy rallies to support solar jobs, mentoring the Solar Works DC cohort, and installing solar right in the nation’s Capital.
“He never once told me I couldn’t do it.”
And that can-do attitude has helped her as a woman in the construction industry, which is difficult, but not impossible. She has experienced people taking tools from her hands, or looking for the “man in charge,” on construction sites, or even vocalizing disbelief that she is installing solar, much less leading the entire crew. But Kaly doesn’t let that get to her.
“Don’t feel intimidated. Don’t compare yourself. Just know that you can.”