From LA to Portland


Story by Aaron Presberg, 2014-15 CivicSpark Alum, Los Angeles Region


It has been 9 months since the end of my service year with CivicSpark and I still can’t decide if that seems like a long time ago or if it seems like just yesterday. Either way, it’s hard to believe and so much has happened in those 9 months. About 3 weeks after I finished up with CivicSpark, I moved from LA to Portland, OR to continue to pursue my career in sustainability. Moving 1,000 miles away without a job definitely wasn’t the safest move, but I was confident and I was excited for a change (and some rain!). Fast forward 5 months, 60 job applications, and 10 interviews later, and I am still jobless (and blown away at the actual amount of rain in Oregon). My confidence and patience were definitely in check, but I learned that keeping that positive attitude really made a difference. During these months, I took full advantage of my free time – took up piano lessons, joined a band, volunteered at a homeless center, and even went on a 10 day solo road trip to Yellowstone National Park. Plus being in a new city helped quite a bit!


Finally the day came. In late March I got a call from Portland Public Schools with a job offer for their Energy Program Manager position that I had interviewed for earlier that month. As Energy Program Manager for the school district, I am responsible for implementing energy savings projects and monitoring utility usage across the district (90 schools & 9 million square feet). I have been working in this role for 2 months now, and while it has been challenging, I can already tell that it is a good fit for me and that I am going to enjoy my work.


I can say with 100% confidence that I would not have landed this job if it wasn’t for CivicSpark. The experience I gained through the program – networking, learning how to be a young professional, and various skills in sustainability and energy – have all been integral to my job so far. My journey since last September has definitely been eventful and it had it’s ups and downs, but I kept my head up and I worked hard because I knew that my experience from CivicSpark gave me the tools and confidence to land a job in the sustainability/energy industry and lo and behold…it worked!