Category Archives: The transition to new energy

Megan Neligan

Megan Neligan_Jobs article

Megan is a senior Environmental Studies major, working as a finance analyst for Cypress Creek Renewables.

Q: Describe a typical day at your job.

A: “There is no such thing! Broadly, I work on financial models, investor requests, and strategic initiatives between project and corporate finance.”

Q:  What past work experience do you have in clean-tech?

A:  “I previously worked in marketing at Sungevity, in Oakland, CA, where I focused on data analysis and customer engagement.”

Q:  What skills did you need to learn that other job-hunters should cultivate?

A:  “I think a strong background in Excel is essential. As an underclassman, I believed I knew how to use excel; after working in data analysis for a residential solar company and project finance at a utility-scale solar company, I realized not only did I not know how to use excel as well as I thought, but also I used the program very inefficiently. There are many classes at UNC in the statistics department and business school that are open to all students. I also believe involvement on campus and learning how to work effectively within a team is very important. While many students dislike group projects, the lessons of accountability, responsibility, and cooperation are invaluable.”

Q:  Describe a time you messed up at work or were uncertain of what to do.  What happened?  How did you handle it?  What did you learn?

A:  “I often joke that working at a start up is like trying to drink out of a fire hose, so I’ve often found myself uncertain about something I had to do. I always try to clarify directions upfront and then just jump right in! Sometimes if it is new terrain for everyone, I just start with diving into the work and breaking it down into more digestible pieces. Afterwards, when sharing the work or the deliverable, I make sure to outline all my assumptions and methodology very clearly so it is not only easy for everyone to understand, but also straightforward for someone to audit. Communication is key.”

Q:  What is the #1 thing you wish you’d known earlier during job-hunting?

A:  “While I had an understanding of this beforehand, I would reiterate to a younger version of myself just how small the renewable energy space is right now. You may be working side-by-side or across the table from any of your peers at UNC in the future, which is very exciting, so keep in touch with people from your internships, classes, and campus groups.  One of my close friends who was a senior when I was a freshman thought of me when she got an email about Cypress and forwarded it along, changing my life. What you do today really does translate into your career and helps grow your network in the future.”

Bianca Gartner

Bianca is a sophomore Environmental Sciences major with minors in Geography and Journalism. She is an intern at the Southeastern Wind Coalition (SEWC) in charge of designing and disseminating information on social media.

 

Q: Describe a typical day at your job.

A: “Usually I’m just on my computer wherever I am at the time, just working through the content that I’ve been sent, figuring out how to get it out to people, in what format, and on what platforms. ”

 

Q:  What past work experience do you have in clean-tech?

A:  “I interned with Environment North Carolina. I worked on the campaign to protect funding for state parks. We organized campus and community events, gathered photo-petitions to Tweet at governor McCrory, we sent weekly letters to the editor and one op ed about our campaign focus, and we gathered a coalition of businesses onto a letter to also deliver to the governor in defense of funding for state parks.”

 

Q:  What skills did you need to learn that other job-hunters should cultivate?

A:  “All this skills I needed were ones I gained just by actually doing the job.  So the “skill” per say would be a willingness to work and try anything – thats really what will get you places. ”

 

Q:  Describe a time you messed up at work or were uncertain of what to do.  What happened?  How did you handle it?  What did you learn?

A:  “One time, we were given a list of 60 people, and I was told to call the people, and try to get them to sign up for a newsletter. I didn’t know I only had to call for two hours, so I ended up spending something like 6 hours on the phone trying to speak to every person on the list.  It was just insane, but I did it because that was the better alternative to not doing enough.  I always handle these situations–if I cant just ask a question to clarify–by going above and beyond.”

 

Q:  What is the #1 thing you wish you’d known earlier during job-hunting?

A:  “Always be applying to everything.   Always keep your eyes peeled because that will help a lot in the long run.”

Charlie Egan

C.Egan_LinkedIn_photo

Charlie is a senior Business and Environmental Studies double-major.  This summer, he will be entering into General Electric’s Financial Management Program (GEFMP).  He will be taking classes and working in various roles for companies across the US and internationally.

 

Q: Describe a typical day at your job.

A: “We rotate through different roles: a treasury role, where you’re looking at accounting aspects and the ins and outs of cash flow for the companies.  An analyst role, or a project development role, where you’re looking at the finances of a project and whether its going to be a good project to invest in.  So you see different companies, you learn different skills.  And there’s also an element of ongoing education.  There are classes that you take, and get grades for.  Then the grades you get in your classes paired with the analysis of how you perform in your job by your manager ranks you amongst your peers.  Then the top performing people will have the best opportunity for the coolest locations. ”

 

Q:  What past work experience do you have in clean-tech?

A:  “I’m a board member for a non-profit called the United Solar Initiative.  We’re actually going to be starting as an official organization here on campus next year.  We work to provide underserved communities with either clean water or electricity via solar energy.  We’ll provide expertise and equipment in solar energy to our partners in Nicaragua, and also World Vision­–which is the largest supplier of clean water in the world.  We work with them to equip solar panels with clean water pumps that would help to mechanize the traditionally hand cranked system and provide for 10 times the amount of clean water as the traditional hand cranked pump.

This past summer of my Junior year, I was in a financial role, but I was working with energy services.  So I was performing financial responsibilities, but it was on projects like wind turbines, solar projects, things like that.

The summer of my Sophomore year, I worked for the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center. There, I did some basic internship duties and helped to put together one of the classes that they teach.”

 

Q:  What skills did you need to learn that other job-hunters should cultivate?

A:  “I think it’s a combination of what you learn here in school and then actually putting things into practice.  One thing that I think that I’ve benefited from personally would be that I have the business and the environmental studies.  I’ve learned concrete business skills in business school and been able to apply those; whereas in other tracks of education, you learn more conceptually, and then when you go to apply it, you’re learning more on the job.

You want to have a skill–something you’re good at–that makes you attractive to companies.  If you’re really good at GIS, that’s an attractive skill.  Quantitative skills, that’s very attractive.  Communication skills are also very attractive.  ”

 

Q:  Describe a time you messed up at work or were uncertain of what to do.  What happened?  How did you handle it?  What did you learn?

A:  “My summer project was comparing pro forma to actual data, to see how we were comparing to what we thought we were going to be doing.  I started with linking models in Excel to consolidate data.

My manager was pretty busy, so we didn’t have a ton of time for her to check up on me.  But once we started to actually walk through it and look at some of the things I was doing, there were a couple of areas that I was linking incorrectly.  That was just me not understanding the original models.  The way it was handled: she told me what I had to do and I owned up to it.  Then I just learned from it going forward.

As long as you can show that you’re not going to make the mistake again, that you learned from it, then that’s something that’s very attractive from an employer’s perspective.  People don’t care if you make a mistake–you’re new.  Just don’t make it twice. ”

 

Q:  What is the #1 thing you wish you’d known earlier during job-hunting?

A:  “The Clean Tech Summit.  Honestly, that’s been the coolest thing that I’ve been a part of at UNC.  Just because of all of the different people they bring in–high profile employers.  It’s an awesome way to get internships.  I had multiple opportunities where, if I didn’t already have a position, I could have pursued things to get a position.

Going to career fairs, those opportunities to interact with employers, that’s a crucial part of the job hunt.  Info sessions that Careerolina puts on for companies–go to those and network!  Meet somebody on a personal level, get their card, follow up with them the next day saying, ‘It was so great to meet you, I would love to hear more about your role in the company’.

Always remember specifically one thing that they said.  If you can have that one personal connection, that’s going to set you apart from other people.  It’s a very good way to start a conversation with someone–without outright saying, ‘I want a job.’”

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