Careers and Internships in the renewable energy field

Why an internship?  An internship, which is often pursued in your junior year – usually over the summer – can be a great entrée into well-paying career and it may even may help you land a job later with a particular company.  Green jobs” relating to renewable energy encompass many areas, including entrepreneurs, researchers, autoworkers making hybrid cars, building consultants, home energy auditors, solar panel installers, environmental studies and engineering professors, think tank policy experts, wind turbine engineers, lawyers for biofuel companies to name just a few.  Internships give you a much better understanding of what a field is like, and they give employers experience with your abilities before they make a long-term investment in you. 

What is available?  There are numerous internships available across the nation relating to renewable energy at universities, federally funded labs, non-profit organizations, private companies, and energy research centers. Some opportunities tend to be in scientific and engineering fields, but others are in policy areas. The ones at universities and research labs usually include a travel and housing allowance as well as a weekly stipend.  Thus, even if your funds are limited, you should consider applying for them even if they are in a different part of the country.  Among those opportunities at companies and non-profit organizations, some are paid, and some are unpaid.

When do I need to apply?  Deadlines vary, but the internships at universities tend to be competitive and often have deadlines early in January for internships for the following summer.  Probably doing one at the conclusion of your junior year is the best time to do it.

How do I get academic credit?  You need to follow these steps once you find an internship that you wish to take but before the beginning of the semester for which you want academic credit: 1) Check with the renewable energy coordinator (me) whether it is appropriate, 2) Print out this form,  3) Get the form signed by me and the department chair, 4) ring the form to the Registrar’s Office.

How to find them?  Internships at universities are often covered by a program known as “Research Experiences for Undergraduates,” abbreviated REU.  Thus, a good way to locate current opportunities relating to energy would be to do a google search on the pair of keywords REU and energy.  Another search on the keywords internships and energy will come up with a number of site that are more likely to be associated with private companies.  You might also try the search terms solar and internships.