Today I begin at my new job, the third of my professional career. It’s a bit funny, looking back at how my chosen path has wavered and twisted.
In the beginning, I started with a desire to work in renewable energy (specifically wind), which motivated me to study power engineering in college. In retrospect, there are other fields of study that would certainly open more doors in that industry, but nonetheless, I ended up professionally doing just that — working in wind. And, naturally, my use of what I learned in college was minimal.
Nevertheless, I did what I could to steer my work in a direction that could make better (read: any) use of my education, a near impossible task given the rigidity of my former employer. I eked out just enough relevant experience there to land the logical next step in my career: straight power engineering, still within the renewable energy industry.
Soon I was living the dream; wielding my education, developing the skills that I didn’t know I wanted to have (working two years in school only to have them idle for another two years professionally only strengthened my desire to revive them), all the while continuing my overarching desire to be in the renewable energy industry.
Solar isn’t exciting to me though. I mean, on a primal level. With modern wind turbines, I could gape at the tall, lumbering, mechanical beasts dotting the landscape, ceaselessly harnessing the unseen flow of air to generate electric currents. There’s a romantic ideal found in looking upon these works. Solar, on the other hand, just is — panels in a field; a humming inverter, and no majesty. The greatest solar fields can only truly be marveled at when they’re looked down upon. From the ground, there’s not much to see.
Of course, working in solar is the opposite. It’s excitement every day; good and bad. Maybe it was just my company that made the industry feel so… chaotic. A decade or two into the establishment of utility-scale photovoltaics should probably have added a bit of structure to our business, but it was what it was. And, all things considered, I think I’m done with it.
I took somewhat of a reverse path compared to many of my peers. Many came from engineering firms to work in renewables — I’m going the other way. Things are going to be very different than what I’ve become used to; hopefully, in a good way. I’m excited to get to work on what I’d spent my college career, and the latter half of my professional career, building towards, with the bonus of leaving behind the distractions of living and dying by stock prices or government tax credits, among many others.
So I’ve come full circle with my studies. It’s a bit sad to leave direct involvement the industry, but nowadays it’s hard to avoid — more and more of those electrons will continue to be provided by renewable sources. Everyone needs electricity. I’m here now to make sure it gets delivered.