Introduction: Clean Energy Trek to California

As I’m sitting up in my bed on the first night of the Nicholas Clean Energy Tech trip, I’m joined by the low, droning voices of MSNBC. The evening is drawing to a close and what a long day it has been already. The highlight of the trip so far has been our dinner with Melissa Semcer, one of the administrative law judges at the California Public Utilities Commission.

Photo from the Aquatic Park Pier on the first day of our arrival.

Over a delicious three-course meal, we got to hear from the Nic MEM alumna about her career journey thus far, including all of its twists and turns. There were many key takeaways; one in particular emphasized how much opportunity we as graduate students have in this unique time in our individual careers.

As many of us are turning towards summer internships (and a handful of us searching for that perfect full-time job), it was refreshing to hear that our futures in energy are far from set, even once we graduate. Especially as so many of us coming into graduate school with the intention of a career transition, it is encouraging to hear from many distinguished energy professionals about their twists and turns.

To address a question that most of my non-MEM friends ask, what is the Clean Energy trek? No, it’s not a series of interviews or outright networking; it’s broader than that in both purpose and scope. To address what career paths make the most sense for our passions and strengths, the trek is an in-depth opportunity to engage with companies and educate yourself on the wide variety of specialities and sectors in energy.

Keep an eye out for my next post where I’ll describe which companies we visited!


For any questions and comments, please email me at soli.shin@duke.edu.

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