Guest Writer: Chloe Chapman. This post is part of the ‘Meet A GIC Volunteer’ series that highlights outstanding volunteers through their involvement with GIC and in their community.
I was never the girl who knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. Though I did know a couple things about my dream job. First, I needed to find a job that would pay for me to travel. And secondly, I needed to find a job that would create a positive impact for the people I worked with and humanity as a whole.
I knew I found my direction as soon as I learned about social entrepreneurship. It fit the goals I had, but I struggled a little to find my way into it. While working at a clean-tech workforce development start-up, I decided to return to school to pursue an MBA so I could aid business owners looking to improve their triple-bottom line and add some quantitative analysis skills to my psychology and art history degree.
Green Impact Campaign
It was halfway through my MBA when I first learned of Green Impact Campaign. I was the president of William and Mary’s Graduate Net Impact chapter and looking for ways to make club activities as hands-on as possible. While I enjoyed the speaker events of other clubs, I wanted to create opportunities for my fellow classmates to get up and do something in their community, learn from their experiences, and use their new skills to positively impact their future companies.
Our club conducted an energy assessment to two fairly different companies – a company that sold tea and spices and one that sold peanuts. One of the companies was very interested in conserving energy and had already implemented many of the suggestions from the assessment – they used only LED lights, minimal overhead lighting in their store, and had occupancy sensors in their downstairs storage room. The other company had so many unnecessary lights in their store, and the amount that was spent on energy was about four times the other store we had audited.
These were businesses that I walked past the year before without knowing anything more than their window displays. GIC gave me the opportunity to walk directly up to business owners, learn what inspired them to pursue their passions, start their own business and hear their story. That’s what I most enjoyed about being involved with GIC, being able to approach local business owners and offer them a free service that would have a lasting impact.
Our club’s impact went well beyond the assessments we conducted. For one of my club members, this experience inspired and aided him to earn an EDF Climate Corps Fellowship that summer. He spoke of his experience with GIC and conducting energy assessments in his interviews which led to his selection and acceptance into the program. As for me, my next journey was just around the corner.
Path To My Career
While attending the Net Impact conference, I met an intern involved in Empower Generation- an organization working to educate women to distribute clean-technology solutions in a country that needed it most. It was exactly what I wanted to be involved in.
Nepal is a country where less than 50% of the country has grid-access, and those on the grid experience black-outs up to 18 hours per day. Living here now, I can attest it is a very difficult place to be productive and connected, and without my solar lights I too would be spending evenings in pitch dark or with the light of a flickering candle to read a book.
I requested an introduction to the founder by the intern, interviewed, and interned throughout my MBA program. It was a great opportunity to build up my exposure to social entrepreneurship and apply what I was learning in class to the real world. I was offered a full-time position and just one month later the devastating earthquake hit Nepal. It was time for action, and I immediately made my way to Nepal to help with Empower Generation’s earthquake relief efforts and their mission to rebuild a more resilient Nepal.
Working in solar, the lessons I learned with GIC are still with me. Because solar is a renewable resource, you wouldn’t think it needs to be conserved. However, the higher your energy demand, the bigger the system you will need and the higher your initial investment. The first step in sizing a solar system is determining the energy load and working with the customer to make their energy demands as efficient as possible. Simple moves such as changing light bulbs and moving their phantom energy suckers to multi-outlet plugs enable Nepalis to purchase a smaller, more affordable system. So even in the renewable energy world, energy efficiency is the name of the game.
Advice For Students
For students interested in finding a job that will help others and make a difference – there is no better time to start than today. I would highly encourage any student to take the initiative, meet as many people as you can, and put yourself out there to help others. GIC is the perfect platform because it gives you the tools to do just that. You have a chance to approach business owners, and you offer them a service that will really help them become more profitable and simultaneously improve the environment. You never know who they might know, or what question in an interview you will have where your GIC experience will be the perfect answer to why that company should hire you.
completed energy assessments
kWh of energy savings identified
energy cost savings identified
gals of water savings identified
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ABOUT GREEN IMPACT CAMPAIGN
Green Impact Campaign (GIC) is on a mission to reduce the environmental impact of small business while better equipping the next generation of climate leaders. We provide university students across the country with cloud-based tools and training to go out and conduct free energy assessments for local, small businesses in their community. Small businesses receive the custom, actionable information they need to make their business more energy efficiency and profitable. While student volunteers receive professional skills through hands-on experience for future impact careers.
Kilowatt Smackdown is our regional competition series where we select one community, town, or city to focus on. We work closely with local universities and partner organizations in the community to host an impactful and exciting sustainability initiative.
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