Green Workforce Spotlight: Damian Lee

Green Workforce Spotlight: Damian Lee

MCE is proud to partner with the Rising Sun Center for Opportunity on green workforce training opportunities. Rising Sun offers training programs for youth, women, and individuals interested in reentering the workforce The programs help trainees land well-paying jobs in the clean energy and construction industries.

Born and raised in East Oakland, Damian Lee recently graduated from the Rising Sun program and has started a new career as a land surveyor with BKF Engineers. We spoke with Damian about the skills he learned during his training and his experience since graduating.

What led you to the Rising Sun program?

I graduated from aviation school for aviation maintenance around a year before I joined the Rising Sun training program. I was having difficulty finding a job and was in search of opportunities. My older brother had been through the Rising Sun training program. He recommended it and connected me with Juanita Douglas, Rising Sun Senior Manager of Construction, and she took it from there.

What was your experience with the program?

I came into the program with prior experience in this field, but I learned so much from Rising Sun that it almost overshadowed what I already thought I knew. The program provided me with skills to help me feel confident moving into the construction work field and provided me with the means to get to and from class. Everyone at Rising Sun was very helpful, and it was great to have that hands-on learning experience.

What skills did you learn?

One of the most useful elements was math training. I learned how to convert quickly between fractions and decimals and collect precise measurements. I also learned proper use of tools, including how to use them more effectively and safely. I was also able to gain specific skills, like first aid, that I never had before. It’s cool to be involved with an organization that prepares people so well for the work field.

How have you been able to use these skills in your career?

I got a job as a land surveyor, and I use the math skills I learned at Rising Sun every day. I am much faster at converting measurements, and I am now familiar with how to read different measuring tools. I also now know how to use a hammer properly, including using setting markers and control points.

What has been your experience since graduating from the program? 

I’ve learned that it’s important to communicate with Rising Sun even after you graduate because they want to help you succeed in your career. If they know things aren’t going as planned, they help you make connections or develop outreach skills. After graduating from the program, some people think that Rising Sun can no longer help them. Rising Sun has shown me that it isn’t the case.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining the program?

Go into the training program with an empty cup. Try to learn and soak up as much as possible. Even if you already have experience in the field, convince yourself that you don’t know anything so that you don’t miss any opportunities that may come your way. Stay optimistic and stay hungry and you can make it anywhere.

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