One Student’s Experience at the Energy Office
Idealism is a rather temperamental thing, for me at least. At James Madison College, the political science program at Michigan State, it comes to me easily. When I am in my courses on social inequality and political theory, I have no question of my passion of making a difference in the social climate we find ourselves in through nonprofit work. Yet, once I leave the secure halls of my classes, I am subject to the statements that follow when I say my career goals. The general gist of these statements is, “You know, everyone wants to change the world when they’re 20.” It’s hard to remain idealistic in such scenarios.
This summer has been exactly what I needed in keeping me on track with what I want to do with my life. My main area of interest has been urban development for some time now, always with an underlying interest in energy efficiency. I wanted to use this summer as an opportunity to test the waters in this new field; so imagine my excitement when I began working with the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office! I would be writing press releases, creating case studies, using software I’d never heard of, and finally working in a non-profit atmosphere.
Through my work, I was able to get an understanding of how energy efficiency programs actually work. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work involved before residents actually hear of the program – from planning on how to best advertise the program to attending local town meetings to get the word out. This work takes perseverance and a constant set of fresh eyes to find new approaches. After much work, you get results when you hear that a program will be offering energy saving services to over 4,000 homes. Or you hear even one resident tell you they’re saving money and that their house feels more like home.
Now, I still know that a sense of idealism alone will not get you to these results, but I’m going to hold on to mine. Because when you get together a group that all have this passion for change, great outcomes will follow.Kajal Ravani is entering her junior year at Michigan State University’s James Madison College. She was a Communications Intern for the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office in the summer of 2012.