Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
My STEP Signature project was an internship with a Renewable Energy focused division of American Electric Power that was being started up while I was working there. During this past summer, I had used my STEP funding for a sublease and funding for gasoline for driving to work in downtown Columbus, OH thanks to the funding. During my time as an intern at AEP OnSite Partners, I supported solar-energy projects through a corporate finance internship role. I also performed work regarding the natural gas industry, regulatory analysis on state-by-state renewable energy policies, and pitch deck work for a major energy industry request for proposal.
What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
The internship experience this summer aided me in being able to better figure out what sort of work I want to do with my career. After spending a summer in energy, I definitely think that this is an industry I want to work within. Most specifically, I truly enjoyed working in renewable energy, because I felt like I was completing meaningful work for an issue that is important to the world; reducing green-house emissions. I also saw through my work at AEP, that there is a vast amount of work that would need to be done to convert our nation’s energy infrastructure towards near-zero carbon emissions. This is a doable task, but is going to require both innovation in the power industry, and an innate drive of both our citizenry and energy-industry professionals to push us towards this goal.
What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?
I would without a doubt say that being an energy finance intern at AEP allowed me to engage in some extremely engaging work. One of my favorite projects that I got to work on was a project where I needed to create a financial model for the first solar + energy storage project in Hawaii, that our company was acquiring from another firm. This project required me to work alongside of an engineering intern to take the engineering model that he was given from the selling company, and transpose it into our financial model. After dozens of hours of work, it was incredible to see that this sort of energy investment can take a client off of the carbon-based grid for nearly 12 hours! Without the energy storage unit, solar energy can only give its power’s energy while there is sunlight out, but with the energy storage unit we can shift some of that energy to a later time in the day. I learned a lot about how these technologies are still nascent in a way, and that we need to continue to deploy and improve these technologies.
I found a fantastic passion for in this work, a passion that truly showed me how interested I am in this industry and trying to solve one of of world’s biggest problems.
Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
This experience meant a lot to my professional development and career selection process. It showed me that there are great challenges for us to summit if we want to address the pressing issue of climate change. I also proved to me that I am able to operate within a professional setting efficiently and thrive. I learned that I have an interest in the energy field and that I can successfully pursue a career within it!
To forge a progressive future, one must understand the past. Above is a photo from a Coal powered power plant.