Jeremy is a 2017 MENV graduate who specialized in Renewable and Sustainable Energy. He currently works as a Workforce and Economic Development Researcher at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), the nation's primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. In this alumni spotlight article, Jeremy tells us about his background and current position, as well as shares his advice for current and future MENV students.
What is your academic and professional background?
My career goal is to highlight the socio-economic benefits of renewable energy technologies in support of increasing the deployment of renewable energy technologies to combat climate change. I was able to transition to a career in the renewable energy industry after completing the Masters of the Environment degree in Renewable and Sustainability from CU Boulder. Prior to the MENV program, I worked in soil and groundwater remediation at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state’s environmental agency. I received my bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin.
Where do you work and how would you describe your role?
I am an economic development and workforce researcher at NREL. I lead and support several projects to understand workforce needs and trends, inform state and local communities about economic development opportunities, and reduce deployment barriers for land-based wind, offshore wind, and waterpower technologies. My role requires wearing many hats – analyst, writer, project manager, and engaging stakeholders – with the goal of seeking answers to innovative questions for the U.S. Department of Energy and other partners. To describe one of my most exciting projects right now, I’m leading an effort to develop a workforce roadmap for the U.S. offshore wind industry – understanding the workforce demand, skills, and training requirements as well as identify gaps for achieving a goal of 30 gigawatts of U.S. offshore wind by 2030.
How did you find your current position? Could you speak about your job search process and how it went?
My MENV capstone project was part of the Research Participant Program internship at NREL. I was very fortunate in that my internship transitioned to a full-time job offer after graduation. Today, my research focus still includes economic impacts from wind energy, the focus of my MENV/NREL capstone project.
Were there any hard or soft skills you felt you lacked or wished you were stronger in when you started your career after graduate school?
Yes – data analytics. A big part of my job includes examining small and large datasets, looking for trends and insights. I taught myself some programs after graduation, such as Tableau. However, familiarity and training in coding languages, like Python, would have been helpful for modeling and analysis in my current role.
What is something people may not know about you?
I’ve been a volunteer ranger with the Indian Peak Wilderness Alliance since 2018. I’m slowing working towards a goal of hiking every trail in the James and Indian Peaks Wilderness. If you ever need a trail recommendation, let me know!
What advice would you give to current and/or future MENV students?
Utilize your capstone project to gain as much experience in whatever field/job/specialty you want to work in after graduating from the MENV program. In wind workforce research, we find that the primary reason employers have hiring difficulty is that they feel students don’t have experience – while students state their greatest difficulty in finding a job is having the right experience. Effectively navigating and leveraging the capstone project, and any other internships or experiences while in the MENV program, can really make the job search after graduation easier.