My name is Alexis Harvey and I work for GRID Alternative as a Volunteer Fellow Coordinator, which is an organization that works to install solar panels in low income neighborhoods. It started in California, but it has moved on and expanded to other areas like Colorado, Nicaragua, and even working with some Native American Tribes.
How does the process work for those that are interested in installing solar panels?
It is free for installers, the panel has a 10 year warranty, makes sure that the people are getting more service in their investment and that it is making an impact on their lives. We are able to do it through several grants and partnerships that help us lower the cost of the materials and help us with the installation process.
What is the purpose of the program?
It is targeted towards providing significant electricity to those low income homeowners. It is beneficial for everyone on the long run.
What opportunities are available for students?
We also have job training programs for people who want to go into the solar industry, to assist us with the installation process, team leaders that completed an electrical training course, all of the goal trying to get students in the solar industry.
There is the Solar Corps Program. It is geared towards post graduates, which is associated with Americorps program, and it allows you get field experience in the solar field. It is a year long internship where you are paid a stipend, and have an award towards any potential grad school course, as well as well as classes outside grad school.
We have internships: It varies between paid and unpaid that gives you the experience as the solar corps program, but not as long. For instance one of the programs that we offer is the solar spring break.
The solar spring break: gives college students hands on training over the course of 5 days, but also get experience as on logistical and operational side. In addition, you get experience in installation and learn about GRID and the solar industry, so it is a pretty comprehensive program.
How do people end up working for GRID?
Many of our current college students go for the solar spring break and look out for GRID, want to know about GRID, and the solar industry. I am a solar corps fellow, I didn't know about solar in general before I started, but it became something I am super interested when I entered the job training program.
What background should students be from if looking to work in GRID or the solar indsutry?
Students should join this program because this organization is amazing. I got my degree in communications and wanted to be in an office. I originally thought you had to be an installer, but there is such a huge range of experiences, one of our people has a degree in architecture, another in psychology, and another in business processes.
Any solar company is not geared towards a particular major or program, I wanted to do something within my major, which was communications. It is very broad industry.
What have you learned through this program?
I have been in this program in this program for a month or so and I have learned more than any other programs I have ever been in. It is so fast paced. They layer so many responsibilities on you. You are an official GRID employee, the organization makes you feel like you belong. It is is like an apprenticeship program, but they layer responsibilities upon you as an official employee.
You can go into it with confidence, I’ve learned so much in marketing and communication. College gives you the qualifications, but it doesn't provide you with the underground training, what I have noticed is that you do that on the job.
Why did you decide to join this organization?
I decided to do this program because I am a planner. I wanted to get a hands on experience. I got associated with GRID because it is a solar focused program and had a job training organization.
I wanted to make sure I had a plan, wanted to make sure I had some hand on experience in a work field that I am interested in. That's what I am getting with GRID.
The program is amazing. People that are in this program are getting so much experience, they are getting so much mentorism, getting guidance that they didn't have before, they let you learn, teach you, let you get up and running, but running efficiently.
What type of students should look out for this industry? Do you have any advice for them?
Students that have interests in the environment or solar programs. I think you should get into it now because it is such a fast growing industry, so it will get competitive in a few years. It is always possible to branch out.