Learning, and Finding My Voice
at ReNew Power
-By Megan Kyne
"Have you ever been to India?" a middle-aged woman asked as I sat down on a plane headed from New York to Delhi.
"No," I responded.
"Oh that's so exciting! You're at university? What's bringing you to Delhi? Travel, work, or study?" she asked.
"I am entering my third year at university, yeah. And work - I'm interning at a renewable energy company called ReNew Power for the summer," I responded.
I wasn't getting tired of saying this; I was profoundly excited to get the chance to say I'd be working at India's largest renewable independent power producer. I had just boarded the last of my three flights from my hometown in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the US. While I had never been to India and didn't know anyone who I'd be working or living with, I was perhaps most nervous about the fact that I'd never worked in an office before. I'd had a few other internships, but none took place in a corporate setting, and certainly not at the scale of a company like this one. At ReNew, I'd be spending nine hours a day with my own desk in the company's shiny new office, and I had no idea what to expect.
"Electrons are electrons, so it's been fascinating to see how much is possible when it comes to differentiating an energy company that theoretically provides the same electrons as everyone else."
University of Pennsylvania
A little over two months later, I'm now well-accustomed to my desk, and I could not have asked for a better place to get my bearings of the working world. My coworkers have welcomed me enthusiastically, offering countless comprehensive insights about India, travel recommendations, tea breaks. They've taken innumerable moments to explicitly teach and guide me.
While the scope of my internship falls under "corporate communications", I've had myriad opportunities here to learn about a diverse range of topics. On my first day of work, I got to speak with the heads of each department, getting comprehensive briefings on the inter-workings of the company.
From attending meetings about productivity and sustainability reporting, brown bag sessions about women in the work place, collaborative meetings with an ad agency, and visiting an NGO-funded school getting solar, to a session with Sumant, the Chairman and Managing Director, each interaction has offered something unique. And perhaps most importantly to my own experience, they've consistently included someone posing the question, "What do you think, Megan?".
I wasn't expecting the chance to have this much of a voice. While ReNew touted the Global Green Scholars program as one that sought diverse perspectives, I wasn't sure how much I could actually offer, nor how seriously the company would take my thoughts. The first time someone explicitly asked me what I thought at an ostensibly important meeting, I was taken by surprise. I stammered an incoherent answer. Compared to the classroom setting that I'm used to, where everyone is on a more level playing ground, I felt that everyone here had more experience and knowledge to offer. What did I know? I was just a college student. Of course, though, in expending resources on and offering this program, ReNew clearly valued what I, along with the four other interns, had to say. Each time I was asked for my thoughts, I began to grow increasingly comfortable and confident that I did have something to offer.
I found that by the very nature of being from a different country and existing outside of the organization, I could bring something new. This wasn't the kind of experience in which I would keep my head down and work quietly, nor was that what I wanted, so I've been profoundly appreciative of the explicit opportunities to speak up. And though my insights have often been sought out in this direct way by people at the company, the resulting practice has also provided the framework and newfound comfortability for contributing any time I have something to say.
This voice, coupled with an inordinate amount of autonomy in my projects, has been at once liberating and somewhat paralyzing. I came to realize that if I wasn't enjoying my work or finding it useful, I was responsible for taking ownership and altering it. I could ask for more, or different work. I could focus on what excited me most. If I was confused, I needed to ask questions. If I was lacking direction, I needed to seek guidance. I've been challenged to challenge myself and to ensure that I'm getting what I want to out of my work. My mentors here have been fundamental to this, constantly checking in, asking if I am learning, offering the opportunity to take on more diverse assignments, and encouraging me to ask questions. While I’ve nowhere near mastered taking them up on all of this, I look forward to my next month at ReNew to continue trying.