If you would have told me just two years ago that I’d be living in Hawaii and working for a solar company, I would have thought you were crazy. However, that’s what I’m doing today and I couldn’t be happier.
My previous career was in massage therapy, something I loved for 12 years. However, over time I became ready for a career change and felt that taking part in something involving sustainability and caring for our environment was the next best thing to caring for people.
During the time that I worked as a massage therapist, I noticed that while I pursued my utmost passion in helping others through massage, I hadn’t achieved the significant goals that I had always longed for – those that would allow me to start my own family, consider myself successful and to be a genuinely happy individual.
I came across Ecotech Institute, which is the first and only school that solely concentrates on careers with a sustainable focus, such as wind and solar energy technology. At first I wasn’t sure what area I wanted to specialize in, but after taking a couple of solar classes I knew that I found a career path that I would love.
In June 2012, I was one of 42 students to receive my degree as part of the very first graduating class at Ecotech. It was an incredibly exciting day and it’s an honor to be part of Ecotech’s first class.
During my education, I acquired newfound knowledge, a unique set of skills and a confidence that I never really had before. I far exceeded my own expectations and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Shortly after graduation I had two job offers, including one from Sunetric in Hawaii. I was beyond excited; this was really happening.
I decided to accept the offer from Sunetric, along with four other fellow graduates from Ecotech, and it’s been an exciting and enjoyable learning experience. For the first two weeks, I shadowed the service and monitoring crew, going to multiple residential sites, while exploring Hawaii at the same time. Let’s just say, it’s an amazing place to land your first job in the solar industry! After those first couple weeks, I’ve been training as a CAD Designer on the commercial side. I’m learning to use AutoCAD, so that I can do Computer Assisted Design for Sunetric.
It’s encouraging that I see opportunities to grow and advance my career from here. I would love to become a lead CAD designer and trainer, working my way up to a project manager and possibly becoming a senior project manager. Eventually, I’d like to play a major role in my community by promoting and advocating for alternative energy, particularly solar, and by that time I’d like to be the head of a solar company or perhaps an innovative alternative energy design company.
My new career in solar has also sparked an interest to live my work beyond my typical shift. In five years, I hope to have built my own net-zero home, I’d also like to own an all-electric vehicle that is charged strictly by solar energy, and I want to live a life that leaves a very minimal carbon footprint.
My dreams look bright, and I believe the solar industry will continue to thrive in Hawaii, considering the expense of electricity here. Solar power is definitely well worth the investment, especially now while rebates are still appealing. As for the mainland U.S., utilities are still considered inexpensive, so switching to solar is a harder sell. I believe the transition to solar will likely grow at a slower pace until people are forced to make the investment. But we are all heading that way as our non-renewable resources dwindle away.
I hoped this leap of faith would help me meet my goals and so far it’s meeting all my expectations. In fact, I’ve quickly discovered that caring for and promoting a healthier environment offers an even greater positive impact than what I was doing before, as well as a more rewarding and fulfilling career.
This career path continues to challenge me and for the first time I’m proud of where I’m headed and look forward to making a lasting impact for years to come.
By: Myers Nguyen, Member of Ecotech’s First Graduating Class
*To learn more about Ecotech check out our Aug/Sept. issue’s Business Issues piece