By Catherine Njeri
My debut into the energy space didn’t start with YEEP (Youth in Energy Empowerment Program), but with my Undergrad in Energy Technology. Admittedly, I got into it for all the wrong reasons, chief among them being that I wouldn’t have a lot of classmates to contend with, which spoke immensely of my introverted nature. Looking back now, I was excited to do something new, something that was outside of the conventional courses that everyone aspired to do and one that no one would be able to dictate what career path I should take after I was done. It was a mind-opening experience to delve into the world of energy. It felt like love at first sight as I continued to learn and my passion for the energy space grew with each unit I took.
I may not be very passionate about climate change as most of my peers in this space, but I do feel much needs to be done in terms of educating people about energy. It was unfortunate that I got into the heart of energy during my final two years on campus (it was a four-year course) and I left feeling very unsatisfied with what I had gleaned from my lecturers. For the most part, I couldn’t really explain what I was learning in school. When someone asked what my course entailed, I would just answer, ‘You know, Renewable Energy’ and leave it at that. The other person would be left with the choice to either stereotype it to Solar or do follow-up questions to really understand what I meant.
YEEP was really a godsend for the fresh out-of-campus me. I finally had a chance to interact one-on-one with people who were actually working in the energy field. The program had been introduced to me by one of my classmates during an event we had been called for. Some weeks after, a flyer was shared in our class group and I decided to shoot my shot. I didn’t even have a clue about who Eenovators were before then. Again, I had thought that not many people would apply for the training but I was shocked to find out more than 200 people were vying for an opportunity to be taken on board the YEEP program. I think that was the first time I was ever anxious about whether I would get in or not.
Fast forward, I got enrolled in the program. Though I had covered most of the topics in my coursework, it was more insightful for me to have a global view of the energy space from people who were living in it. I finally understood that it wasn’t just about dealing with renewable energy technologies and production, but there was a huge need for Energy Management. My focus was widened to how much potential the space had to offer in terms of Energy Management Systems, developing the education capacity, and the technology that could be developed within the space. I felt as though I had found my heart again.
My aspirations within energy seem to grow with each experience that I am gaining during my internship period. Key things that I have been able to gain include procedures followed in energy audits including safety. Conducting presentations on the audit findings, data analysis, technology already in use, report writing, and communication with the clients and the team. I have also come into contact with the leadership that entails being able to influence people to be more aware of their role in consuming energy and that they are in a position to manage their energy usage. Being a person who largely conformed to the ‘engineering’ way of doing things, it has been very interesting to grow my soft skills.
As my involvement with YEEP and Eenovators continues, I find myself motivated to create a space for myself in the energy field. Whatever milestones I’ll make in the future, I’ll always remember that it all started from the colors that YEEP painted before me.