Energy Job Seekers: Don’t Go Back to School – Educate Yourself

May 4, 2011

Career, Energy Job Hunters

The thought of continuing education in this economic climate can be hard be to swallow if your idea of education is limited to the classroom. Monumental student loans, cost vs benefit of traditional education routes, and tough financial times are all discouraging to job-seekers. But education is important – it shows your knowledge base is relevant. So what’s an energy job seeker to do?

Luckily, we live in an amazing day and age where we can self-educate to stay on the cutting edge of necessary information. Tuition and tireless schedules are no longer necessary evils (and often dated/irrelevant before you complete your academic program).

If you’re looking for an energy job, start building your own textbooks and developing your own curriculum.

Stay on the cutting edge of the energy world on your own no-cost/low-cost terms with the 5 steps to self-education below:

  1. Develop a curriculum – Figure out what you need to learn-up on. I’ve posted an example curriculum for energy efficiency self-educators below these five steps.
  2. Make your own textbooks – Start hoarding white papers, industry publications, blog subscriptions, etc. Breaking news on the internet is much more applicable than decade-old info in traditional text books.
  3. Talk to an advisor – Find someone in the industry that can point you to great resources and feed you new ideas as time goes on. Mentors and coaches are a huge help.
  4. Study habitually – No one becomes an expert overnight. It takes dedication, discipline, and perseverance to make learning pay off. Make a habit of hitting the “books” and work it into your daily routine.
  5. Keep copies of your transcripts – Track everything you’re doing and everything you’ve accomplished with your self-ed along the way. It can be used in an interview to demonstrate your self-taught knowledge base.

Sample Cirriculum for Energy Efficiency Self-Ed

Intro to Energy Management
Read chapters 5 through 12 in the Guide to Energy Management. Read every word, memorize the vocab, and do all the study questions/problems. This is by far the best technical energy management primer anyone can intellectually ingest – even if you’re a beginner.

Technology Today
Attend webinars, trainings, and seminars whenever humanly (and financially) possible. US Department of Energy (DOE) hosts a whole slew of technology webinars for free. Energy Center of Wisconsin has great trainings for pretty cheap. Most states have some sort of energy training center that you can look into, as well. I suggest 3-5 technical trainings each year in order to keep up the newest and coolest stuff out there.

Subscribe to at least five energy blogs/sites that talk about what’s happening in the industry, who’s doing what, which contracts are being won, and what’s on the industry’s horizon. (I suggest using Google Reader to manage your subscriptions – and you can view my Blogroll list in the column to the right to see which energy hubs I follow)

Start blogging about energy. WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger are all well-received (and free!) platforms for blogging your heart out. This builds your credibility and confidence in energy know-it-all-ness. Get over any predispositions about blogging being for nerds and just do it… and keep up on it! There’s no easier way to point to an energy-related writing portfolio than to drop a quick URL to your blog.

Read and master Chapter 4 in Guide to Energy Management. Read every word, memorize the vocab, and do all the study questions/problems. Know thy energy finance and love it.

Whether you’re a recent grad turning your 4-year degree into something energy related or a career-changer later in life, stop worrying about how to ‘get into energy’ and start making your own rules for education.

What do you do already to self-educate? What are your goals to kick it up a notch? Need help developing your own curriculum? Let me know!

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2 Comments on “Energy Job Seekers: Don’t Go Back to School – Educate Yourself”

  1. Kyle Callahan Says:

    A solid plan for continuing to keep yourself educated. There is an overwhelming amount of information streaming in from every industry every day. I’ve tried to consume as much as possible, but it kind of gives me a headache. You can only read so much news. A good approach is to pick up the textbook or a handful of blogs and news sources. Pick your topic of study and engage in conversations after doing some reading and analysis. Isn’t that what we all did in college anyway? The professor assigns a chapter and after people absorb every word (you did read every word right?)you have a discussion or lecture regarding key ideas. Maybe you answer some questions to help you think through the concept more thoroughly. All of that can be structured for you at a cost of thousands of dollars, or you can design your own curriculum, buckle down and educate yourself for the price of books.


    • Madam Energy Says:

      Kyle, I love this approach! I even set up a (very much so simplified) self-education curriculum sample for energy professionals last month ( because I feel so strongly about this. I see so many people in this industry going back to school to get graduate degrees and getting into major debt in pursuit of information. Some people may need the structure of the classroom but I’d say most people can achieve the learning part on their own. Thanks for your input!


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