Michelle Simms (’19): Renewable energy in Minnesota

Posted on April 12th, 2019 by

We regularly feature geography-related student internships on this blog. Today we hear from Michelle Simms (’19), a double major in Biology and Religion, who interned in renewable energy infrastructure last summer.

Who did you intern for and what does this company do?

I worked at Geronimo Energy in Edina, MN. Geronimo Energy is a utility-scale wind and solar energy company; essentially they create and develop renewable energy infrastructure across the country. I was the Permitting Intern for summer 2018, and I helped prepare permits of all types that needed to be approved in order to fully develop a project.

What is something you learned about wind energy from this internship?

Through this internship, I learned a lot about the complexities of the permitting process for wind energy– the numerous types of permits, the considerations of height and blade length, as well as permits to use local roads, land use, and wetland permits. I had never realized the amount of collaboration it takes to build a wind farm, and it was amazing to get to take part in that process.

What is something you learned about the work world from this internship?

I learned that the skills I gained in school were really beneficial in the work world– specifically, the ability to write well and the ability to stay organized on the job. I found that my experiences in writing papers and reports paid off when I needed to write concisely and correctly for a stakeholder. The work world definitely will value the ability to communicate that you’ve gained through college.

What is something you learned about yourself from this internship?

I learned that I really enjoy working on a specific part of a larger project, and then collaborating with others to combine all of the parts to create a whole.
What skills and knowledge did you need to draw on in this internship?
I needed to draw on my writing and organizational skills, as well as my critical thinking skills in order to prepare concise and accurate permit applications. I also learned how to communicate on conference calls, which is a crucial skill in the work world.
What was a highlight of the internship?
A highlight of this internship was getting to work at a transformative and highly-motivated company in order to reach the goal of more sustainable energy infrastructure. I also really loved getting to visit solar and wind farms, and getting to talk about solar and wind energy with local residents.

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