Student: Aneeza Ahmad ’25, an environmental studies and philosophy double major from Sharon, Mass.
Place and Purpose: Dirigo Solar, Portland, Maine, as a development intern
The Job: With her funded Purposeful Work internship, Ahmad helped Dirigo Solar in its work with local landowners, towns, and small businesses to co-locate solar power, including researching and summarizing recent solar policy, designing an educational one-pager in Canva, and conducting a project to determine the opportunity for solar in certain Maine communities of focus using different mapping tools.
The Story: All politics is local, said Tip O’Neill, a truism that Amhad learned over the summer when attending a city council meeting in Augusta, Maine, to hear discussion and debates about a solar project.
“This experience opened my eyes to the complexities of local governments and the role they play in shaping Maine’s future. Policy isn’t only important higher up; a lot of exciting things happen at the local level, too.”
A highlight was getting into the field to see a solar array under construction, two and a half hours north of Portland. “In the office, everyone is working to develop these projects — permitting, talking to the landowners, doing the stuff behind the scenes.”
Like donning a hard hat and a reflective vest, and visiting what used to be a landfill, “to see like actual work being done in the trucks and the tractors and panels and boxes that are gonna get installed. So that was cool.”
She learned about herself, too. “Interning at Dirigo confirmed for me that I am a very mission-driven person. I want to engage in work that helps further a goal I believe in — in this case, to help build a clean energy future for the state of Maine. I found great purpose in this mission, and it was a joy to work with such a passionate team of people committed to the same idea.”
As an environmental studies major, Ahmad has gained “high level, theoretical knowledge about environmental issues and renewable energy.” Interning at Dirigo was a complementary experience. “I have real experience to connect my coursework to. It’s been incredibly valuable to see how the industry works with my own eyes.”