I recently had the opportunity to join a diverse panel of industry professionals to speak about my career experiences. The special event, hosted by the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), was comprised of an audience filled with students from Leo High School in Chicago, who were also members of the National Society of Black Engineers, Junior Chapter (NSBE Jr.).
In honor of Black Energy Awareness Month, AABE used this event to spotlight the importance of educating communities on the role energy plays in our daily lives, while also exposing minority students to careers in energy.
The event opened much like our meetings at Franklin Energy—with a safety message—and a brief overview of AABE and its extremely worthwhile mission, which is executed through focused initiatives in these areas:
- Energy policy development
- Career and professional development
- Information dissemination
- Scholarships and awards
Before the event officially began, the organizer shared potential questions the moderator would ask our panel. The first question might have seemed like a simple one, but it left me stuck: How did you get your start in the energy arena? Unlike most of my colleagues on the panel, I had never intentionally moved into this industry; I honestly just fell into it. While I mulled this question over and tried coming up with a response, I thought about why I truly love my job—and beyond my job, I thought about why I love this industry and Franklin Energy.
As a marketer, my industry options are wide open. I could work anywhere, but working in energy has given me so much more than I could have imagined when I first began. It has allowed me not only to educate others on energy efficiency and utilize my marketing skills but to create positive environmental impacts and promote sustainable habits.
Looking through that lens, answering the moderator’s questions became a no-brainer. The students and parents in attendance were intrigued by the various career paths shared by panel members, and they were eager to learn more. After the panel discussion, we enjoyed lunch, networking and a vision board workshop together.
Overall, it was an excellent event and a great opportunity for all panelists to share our excitement and passion for the industry with future diverse professionals. It’s important to educate the next generation on the opportunities that lie within the energy industry and welcome their innovation as we continue to evolve and grow.
If you’re interested in joining our team, check out our open positions!
Ashley Bennett, Associate Marketing Manager
Ashley Bennett is always in tune with the needs of her clients and ready to provide solutions. In addition to managing all event and outreach efforts for a variety of Chicago utilities, she also develops strategic marketing plans, works directly with clients to ensure quality materials, provides leadership within her team and more. Ashley holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago.