By: Will Thompson, Co-Founder and Senior Vice President, Nexamp Asset Management Services
The U.S. military is full of shapeshifters. Learning new roles, working with different equipment, and operating in unfamiliar environments come with the territory. But in my experience, the last day of active duty represented the biggest, and most challenging, change of all. If you’re transitioning out of the military and looking for a mission-based role in the civilian workforce, keep reading.
Suited for Renewables
16 years ago, I was in the same position. I wanted to pursue a meaningful civilian career that did my time in uniform justice; one that leveraged my unique skills and gave me a new purpose. Thankfully, my best friend and fellow Veteran Daniel Leary welcomed me into the renewable energy industry. And I’d like to do the same for you.
Veterans are uniquely suited for this field. Not only because it’s constantly evolving, but because it’s backed by a mission. We’re working together to support U.S. energy independence, fight climate change, revitalize our Nation’s energy grid, and safeguard future generations. And if that’s not a worthy follow-on mission, I don’t know what is. Many are inclined to agree which is why the Solar Ready Vets Network was founded in 2014. Numerous solar workforce development programs and initiatives are being funded to support your transition into this field. As an advisory board member, I can tell you they truly make a difference.
- Solar Ready Vets Fellowship Program: "This program places active-duty military service members in 12-week, work-based learning programs with solar employers to help them transition to civilian careers. The Solar Foundation leads this program in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hiring Our Heroes” program and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)."
- Solar Opportunities and Readiness (SOAR) Initiative: "The SOAR Initiative connects veterans with solar training, credentialing, professional development, and employment opportunities. The Solar Foundation leads this program in partnership with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) and SEIA."
- Cyberguardians and STEM Warriors: "This project, led by the SunSpec Alliance, provides training for veterans with cybersecurity and information technology experience."
It doesn’t matter where home is, these programs can help you build a career in renewable energy. Sure, your skill set can be applied to various industries and many programs aid your transition into the civilian workforce, but how many protect the future of life on Earth? In this industry, you can build a better world, one where energy costs are reasonable and there’s no fighting over foreign resources.
Connected & Capable
Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, there will be 9 million jobs created in this field over the next ten years. Through these programs, you can explore opportunities across the country, but there are other ways to get involved. Recently, during a collaboration with the 100 Entrepreneurs Project, a foundation that helps wounded veterans, caregivers, and family members find new careers, I shared how networking led me to Nexamp. I know that when you’re coming out of the military, you’re typically not with the same people, but you can network even if it starts with a friend. I got my construction job through my best friend’s father-in-law, and without that experience, I would not be where I am today. 15 years later, it was a friend that connected me to the 100 Entrepreneurs Project. My advice is to leverage every connection you have, even if you cannot see the path.
Just a few months ago, Eric Mattia, an Army Veteran, reached out to me over LinkedIn to discuss opportunities in solar energy. We had never met, but I was happy to connect him with Chris Perron, another Nexamp Veteran, who leads the Clean Energy Deployment team. And within a quarter, Eric was Nexamp’s newest Solar Design Engineer Intern. Today he’s supporting U.S. energy independence while pursuing an energy systems master’s at Northeastern University. He’s been an asset to the Nexamp team in more ways than one, and a daily reminder of the power of networking.
Without Daniel Leary, I would not be the co-founder of Nexamp today. He welcomed me into this industry and made it easy for me to say ‘yes’ to the opportunity of a lifetime. Now I’m democratizing clean energy and building a habitable future for all. If you think your follow-on mission could be the same, leverage these programs, tap into your network, or reach out to me directly. This industry could use more people like you, and it would be my pleasure to guide the way.