Dan Conerd, Solar Photovoltaics Installer, Namaste Solar
When Dan Conerd graduated from his Iowa high school, he knew two things: he wanted to join the military, and he wanted to learn a trade skill. After eight years serving in the U.S. Army – including a one-year tour in Mosul, Iraq – he had fulfilled both of these goals. Now he’s on a mission to have a career in the renewable energy industry, and is well on his way.
As a heavy construction operator and an M249 gunner in the military, Dan gained valuable experience in machinery and construction while honing his leadership abilities. For Dan, it also cemented the importance of having a plan, and sticking to it. “I’ve always had goals. I know where I want to be, and how I need to get there. I always have a plan A, B and C,” Dan says. His technique is paying off.
Dan is now employed by Namaste Solar, a commercial and residential solar services company in Denver. His path to this opportunity started through a consultation with Veterans Green Jobs, which recommended Dan take advantage of his GI Bill and get trained in a field that interested him.
With an eye toward a career in the solar industry, Dan enrolled in Red Rocks Community College’s renewable energy program, where he is working toward an associate’s degree in solar photovoltaics (PV).
Veterans Green Jobs also urged Dan to submit his resume for an entry level opening at Namaste Solar. Wanting to get his foot in the door, he applied – and was hired as a PV installer.
“There are lots of opportunities in the solar industry, and solar is always changing and improving. That’s interesting to me. And there are lots of avenues to experience, from commercial to residential, and basic installation to electrical,” he says. He adds, “I’d like to get into the solar design field, where I can be on site in the field with a crew of my own.”
Prior to joining Namaste, Dan had a good job as an assistant manager in retail. But he was drawn to sustainable opportunities that had larger implications for the environment and the economy. The Namaste job fit the bill. “I believe that solar technology, and renewable energy in general, helps us get away from consumption of gas and oil. I may not be fighting wars anymore – but I’m still helping the country. It’s important to me and other veterans.”
In addition to the long-term appeal of solar as a growing job sector, this work attracted Dan because he loves being outside, working with his hands, and working with “like-minded people who get excited about the advancements of solar technology and want to see it succeed.”
Now that Dan has an entry into solar, he’s set on making an impression by learning everything he can and working his way up. He wants other veterans to see their own value and skills so they can achieve their dreams, too.
“I hope veterans always want to strive for more, and never settle. They need to keep their heads up, and remember that they are capable of doing more.”