When I left the mining industry in 2015 to start a business in the solar energy industry, I knew little about solar or business. It was a very scary shift, but in my heart, it felt like the right move for my long-term career. What I lacked in knowledge; I was confident I could learn.
My degree in mining engineering gave me a solid base but I needed more specialized knowledge. I understood systems, problem solving, long term finances, and could work some magic with an excel spreadsheet. Growing a profitable business or designing a solar array not so much. Although I no longer need to know how to use mining software, or plan out stages of mine development, I use PV software, plan construction projects and form strategies every day at Kuby Renewable Energy. The field and minute details are different, but how knowledge is applied using high-level skills is similar.
I started off my transition by attending a course on the basics of solar PV to learn what key considerations are such as, ‘how does solar energy work’. I built off this to introductory knowledge by continuously devouring relevant online content, books on business, and personal development, and spending a great deal of time at the school of hard knocks. The process of learning and self-educating is ongoing and will likely never stop.
Coming from a different field, I appreciate that one’s exact experience does not fully represent how well one will do in a new position. But it helps to have experience. For those that are changing career’s, it is important to know what is required in a new role and to get those skills and knowledge as quickly as possible.
Showcasing that you are taking the initiative to invest in yourself, is a good sign that others should invest in you as well. My business partner and I may not have connected had I not had a technical education. Our first few clients would not have hired Kuby Energy if I did not have the basic knowledge of solar power systems. Our company would not have been profitable and growing since inception had I not continued to learn all that I can.
Almost every one of our employees has changed fields in one way or another, this is quite common today, especially when working in a bourgeoning field such as renewable energy. The most obvious transition is our electricians coming from oil and gas, but we have top employees that came from a wide range of industries such as the financial and personal fitness sector with little to no experience in solar energy.
It is easy to only think about 6 to 12 months away. It is hard to plan for 10+ years into the future. Changing fields can be challenging, stressful and even hurt financially (be prepared for the potential of a pay cut depending where you are coming from and where you are going), but the long-term payoff can be worth it all.
About the Author(s)
Adam Yereniuk is the Director of Operations for Kuby Renewable Energy, a solar power contracting company specializing in residential and commercial applications serving Western Canada. Through Kuby Energy Adam develops, designs, and manages solar PV/energy storage projects. Adam holds a degree in Mining Engineering from the University of Alberta and has been in the solar industry since 2015.