While working in China at an environmental nonprofit, Simon Feng Ou wanted a career that would sustain his interest. After scanning the environmental landscape and centers of industries in the field, Feng Ou moved to San Francisco to land a job in distributed energy.
But due to his lack of experience in the field, the job opportunities were not as prevalent as he'd hoped. "I quickly realized that there was a lot of knowledge that the general public and myself was just not aware of," he says. "I was reading different articles, but I really wanted to find a program or curriculum that put that into digestible guidelines for me." UC Berkeley Extension's Professional Series in Smart Grid Technology fit the bill.
I've also been able to get secondary benefits, as well, with networking and friendships.
You were learning from instructors who bring their real-world experiences to the classroom. What was it like learning from them?
My introduction class instructor, YanPei Chao, was more than an instructor; he became a mentor. I had a conversation with him about my plans to transition into this industry. It was a tremendously positive experience. He took my resume and we strategized about the different ways he could help me. I still keep in touch with him.
When I took the classes, I thought that I just had to master the class content. But, I've also been able to get secondary benefits, as well, with networking and friendships. I got my new job—at PG&E on the business finance team—through a classmate.
What will completing the program mean to you?
It gave me the opportunity to learn while I was thinking of transitioning into a new career. It gave me credibility and showed all the work that I put in. I've had a really positive experience.