Some words of wisdom for career changers….

I am losing my hair and I have a couple gray hairs creeping into what is left – so I feel I can finally start giving advice.

So you would like to learn more and see about how best to get into the industry – I applaud you! We have all been there, and it is an exciting place to be.

Over the past year I’ve had countless conversations with excited, motivated and very eager people (I’m hoping like you) that are looking to break into CleanTech.

Last night I had a conversation with an incredibly talented consultant that has been working to develop business plans and source capital for start-ups for seven years since graduating from a top-flight MBA program – she had a quandary that you may be confronting now yourself.

She was looking to do something more meaningful and something that transcended her strictly work hours. She was beginning to feel like the work she was doing was pointless. She knew her skills were valuable, but she didn’t know how she could begin to apply them immediately into the sector. She didn’t know where to turn for information and what to do to get spun up on what she needed to know to land a great job.

Her initial thought was that she should leap into an un-paid internship to learn as much as she could about the subject by immersing herself into a “CleanTech Company.” I disagreed last night and after reflecting on it I still do. She has worked hard to get a level of respect that her achievements merit, working for free for a company that is going to benefit greatly from it as an intern doesn’t make sense for someone of experience – even if her time was worth little to her and money were not an option, furthermore she has an incredibly valuable skill-set (especially for the CleanTech sector!). Please note, that I am not discouraging volunteering – quite to the contrary.

I think that the plan we laid out for how to achieve her CleanTech/Sustainability credentials is much more meaningful for her professionally, and for the industry as a whole, than jumping into an unpaid internship (the way that I once did). Her consulting firm develops business plans and helps start-ups source capital – what better way to have an impact on the industry than by starting a CleanTech focused practice within her firm? She gets the recognition from her seniors for recognizing a market need and over the course of a few projects developing companies’ business plans she will gain an understanding of the technologies and the competitive landscape of some of the industries within CleanTech.

I’d suggest offering to be a volunteer or mentor at an organization – for those of you in the SF Bay area try California Clean Tech Open ( I am doing it!

But that still didn’t didn’t answer her question of where to turn for information…

You could do much worse than by reading The Clean Tech Revolution by Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder. Choose a particularly interesting technology, be it solar photo-voltaics or bio-fuels, and check the bibliography and follow where that takes you.

Another great tool to help you stay current is RSS – these feeds allow you to get all the information you want from the sources you like getting information from. Like this blog for example. Check out our links section and you’ll see that we have compiled a great list of websites, and many of them have RSS feeds that you can put into your RSS readers.

And finally… get out there. Go meet folks – we’ll have an interactive calendar here soon where organizations can post Green Drinks, Eco-Tuesday’s, events and Climatini’s…

Speaking of which – for you San Francisco Bay folks, tonight is Climatini on Medjool’s rooftop terrace on Mission and 22nd street… I’m running late for it so I’ll catch you there.

Un abrazo!


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