ISO Interns: Future energy leaders get real-life experience

By Purva Bhattacharjee, Intern, Communications and PR |

Whether it was writing legal briefs, seeing renewable energy integration in action, or helping develop emergency procedures, California ISO’s 2021 summer internship class experienced a unique learning opportunity working for a wholesale energy market and one of the most modern and clean power grids in the world.

Though their experiences were diverse, the group of 22 interns can now leverage their newfound skills in the next step of their academic and career goals.

The ISO’s internship program draws from a pool of some of the top undergraduate and graduate college students from all over the country. The interns got hands-on training across the organization, including power system engineering, policy development, government affairs, communications, human resources and compliance.

At the same time, the ISO organization had an opportunity to inspire and motivate the energy industry’s future workforce and to be exposed to new practices and emerging technology and systems.

“The ISO looks for highly motivated students seeking hands-on experience, and interested in a career in the energy industry,” said Juan Buitrago, ISO Lead Human Resource Analyst and Intern recruiter. “Our interns truly represent the future generation who will tackle tomorrow’s challenges in the power sector. The internship program is a great way for our staff to introduce young adults on the cusp of entering the workforce to the many career opportunities ahead of them, and we gain fresh, modern perspectives and hardworking team players that can reinvigorate departments. It is a tremendously mutually beneficial relationship.”

Besides the day-to-day experience of working in a real-world energy business setting, the ISO offers workshops and seminars for the interns to learn about hot industry topics, such as renewable energy, electric cars, and micro grids.

This summer’s interns were the second group to learn in a work-from-home environment, due to the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions. Although the interns were required to work remotely this year, the ISO adapted its program to a virtual format seamlessly, allowing interns to feel like a part of the workforce.

The internship class of 2021 learned a broad spectrum of skills that will help advance their personal and professional development, and career goals. Cindy Jiang, a second-year UC Berkeley law student, said that she refined her “nascent legal skills, such as writing legal arguments and honing my research skills while working in the ISO’s general counsel department.”

Jiang feels like working remotely improved her interpersonal skills.

“Communicating with the team in a virtual environment naturally fast-tracked the process of fitting into the office culture,” she said.

Daniel Tabas, an intern in the operations planning department, saw renewable energy up close and in real time.

“I learned about the ways in which planned outages affect system operations,” he said. “I also got to meet with engineers across the ISO to discuss the challenges associated with renewable energy integration.”

While a majority of interns worked remotely, Alba Joy worked on-site as the Corporate Preparedness and Campus Operations intern.

While working at the Folsom campus, Joy said her favorite projects were “creating procedures for the Emergency Operations Center, and analyzing the weekly generator test runs.”

“At the Emergency Operations Center, I got to ensure that the center operated smoothly and aided the teams during the numerous heat waves,” she said. “For the generator test, I was able to see how both corporate preparedness and campus operations works together to ensure that the power will stay on regardless of any outages.”

CAISO opens its internship application process in January and typically hires students to start anytime from May to July, depending on their academic calendar. College students entering their senior year or graduate students interested in working at the California ISO are encouraged to follow us on LinkedIn to see our internship and job postings.

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