Staff Stories: ASES Solar 2023

My first international conference experience is an unreal one thanks to the Student Energy team. I started my journey with Student Energy as a fellow with the Student Energy Fellowship Program to learn about energy education, and the skills I need to enter the energy workforce while navigating youth imposter syndrome. Fast forward from then to August 11th, 2023, I was tasked to deliver a workshop “Entering the Energy Transition Labour Market” at the ASES Solar 2023 Conference in Boulder Colorado for university students to learn practical skills to enter the energy industry– an experience so surreal that I feel nothing short of gratitude. 

The ASES Solar conference held space for presentations, discussions, and speakers for both working professionals and youth to co-learn about social justice aspects of the energy sector– such as women in solar, intergenerational discussions on mentorship, and youth entering the labour market to name a few. The event ran from August 8-11th but I arrived in Boulder on the 10th, leaving me with little time to enjoy the rest of the conference. I was, however, lucky enough to listen in on a “Young Professionals” panel discussion on youth sharing their strategic ways on networking, and navigating their early career challenges in the renewable energy sector. The latter half of the session allotted for a rotating speed networking session with the youth panelists, where I participated and learned some common, yet relevant challenges that young people face in entering the green jobs market. Youth with backgrounds in engineering, public policy, and STEM research find it challenging to find meaningful work, and shared various ways such as pitching project ideas or research topics as a way to show their initiative and proactiveness in their work-learn opportunities and internships. Connecting with these young professionals informed me the same stories of all other young people globally who are passionate change makers, and have grit to make meaningful difference in the energy transition movement, but are struggling to enter the industry. Feeling even more inspired by this experience, I channeled the same level of positivity into delivering Student Energy’s workshop that speaks to the very nature of this conversation– how young people can enter the energy transition labour market. 

The workshop drew key insights from Student Energy’s recently published report “Energy Transitions Skills Project” and its own 14 years of youth engagement to provide some actionable recommendations on how youth can take hold of their own energy careers. I walk through the importance of reflecting values, desires, and skills before job searching as a way to remind young people what is important to them when selecting a career; and relating their values to the labour market demand will make it easier for them to target their job search. Later, I facilitated a storytelling session where participants pitch their stories amongst themselves as a practice run for future networking opportunities with industry professionals. While there was low attendance in the workshop, the youth who participated were very engaged and happy to share their stories and connect with one another. 

Sharing recommendations to young people to be part of the energy movement gives me joy as I was in the same position a couple of years ago–I did not know how to apply my own unique skills and lived experiences in the energy transition industry, and felt severe imposter syndrome as a result. I still am continuously navigating through this rhythm of learning collectively as I engage with other youth on how we can intercept high-level decision-making spaces, and make our voices heard through our work. From learning about energy education through the Leaders Fellowship Program, to now working as Research and Youth Engagement Special Projects Coordinator, Student Energy has expanded my potential in the way I see myself, and how to creatively apply my own unique skills in the energy space. This experience has given me the opportunity to connect with other brilliant minds that give me the optimistic feeling of a positive transformation of the energy industry, and preparing for the next generation of leaders to confidently reclaim and re-write their futures.