What began as a spark of interest in renewable energy in a high school environmental science class has now become a new career opportunity for Vivica Moore, a former Leyline Renewable Capital intern.
Studying management information systems at North Carolina A&T State University, Vivica Moore had no set path for the program she had recently chosen. However, a one-on-one session with Leyline at N.C. A&T's career fair rekindled her earlier curiosity for renewables and led to an internship with the Leyline team.
At Leyline, we welcome promising individuals like Vivica as we prioritize curating a diverse, empowered team. Maintaining values for equity and justice and investing in the education of our future innovators equip us to best achieve our goals of accelerating the pace of green energy projects and reducing the world's carbon footprint. We created this business to make a difference in the world - both through the projects we invest in and the way that we operate. Click here to read Leyline's Statement on Equity and the guidelines and processes we've established that give us a practical path toward making a tangible difference.
Vivica joined Leyline in 2021 as part of the inaugural class of the Renewable Energy Externship at Leyline (REEAL) program, where she had the opportunity to take her classroom learning into the real world. In the interview below, Vivica shares how Leyline's unique program offers the unparalleled chance to alternate between seven different teams during the externship period, and then concentrate on working in-depth with her choice of a few teams as a full-time intern.
First things first, can you tell me a bit about yourself, who is Vivica Moore?
I'm a sophomore management information systems student at North Carolina A&T State University. I first got introduced to Leyline through our career fair.
Can you tell me about the school that you go to and the program that you're doing?
A&T is actually very close to my family. Both my dad and my grandfather attended A&T, making me a third generation here. I just recently joined the Deese School of Business in Economics after declaring my major the first semester of my sophomore year. I came to college as undeclared, but now I am studying management information systems. The program is a mixture of business and technology, with a little more focus on management rather than technology. I've loved it so far, so I think I made a pretty good choice in the program I selected.
What was it about the program that sparked your interest?
I always wanted to do something in business, but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with it. After my freshman year, I was still having a hard time deciding, and I spoke with my uncle who works in finance. After telling him the different things that I was wanting out of a career, he suggested I look into management information systems. After doing my own research on it, I did, in fact, like what it was pertaining to, as technology has always been an area I've also been interested in. Then I had an intro to management information systems class the next semester, and I really enjoyed it. So, that definitely reaffirmed my decision to choose that major.
Before coming to Leyline, how would you express your career goals or your career plans or your future job goals?
Prior to Leyline, I was still feeling out the different career paths, because management information systems is such a wide umbrella of different careers and opportunities. I was just trying to find something where I can see the different opportunities in a career setting or within a company. I wouldn't say I actually had a specific idea on what I wanted to do beforehand. I did enjoy data analytics, digital technology, and data management beforehand, but I wasn't set on a certain career path.
What drew you to pursuing the Leyline internship? What excited you about it?
I first met everyone at Leyline at my university's career fair. I was the only student in their first general session, so it was just me and everyone representing Leyline. Everyone was super nice and helpful, and they did such a great job of explaining the company and the internship program. I really loved the company, because I have been interested in renewables ever since I took an AP environmental class in high school. That was a year of learning about renewables, energy, and things of that nature. The subject sparked my interest then, and hearing about it again with Leyline definitely brought that back.
Hearing about the REEAL program was awesome, because you don't hear about both externships and internships together, so I thought it would be a great opportunity. During the session, they mentioned they were really aiming for juniors, so I got kind of discouraged. However, I decided to go ahead and apply anyway, because it was such a good opportunity. That way my name was in their memory, so if I didn't get it this year, I could apply again next year. I had to make sure I at least applied and kept it at the forefront, because it was such a big opportunity.
You mentioned you have been interested in renewable energy, what interests you about it?
I come from a very rural area that had some environmental issues around the same time I was taking the AP environmental class I mentioned. The power plant in my county had coal ash spilling into the French Broad River, which was a big deal of course. It was the perfect time to take that class, because we were able to learn so much more about the environmental impact of a crisis like that and why renewable energy is so important. That situation definitely fueled my interest in renewable energy.
Were there any initiatives in your area to work against that?
I know they at least relocated the coal ash, but I am not sure what they did with it or if anything else has been done. My grandparents live particularly close to the plant, and I can remember seeing trucks coming out with the coal ash.
You also said the structure of the program piqued your interest. Could you explain what the structure is?
The structure of the REEAL program includes an externship during the spring semester, where I spent two weeks with each team in the company, including a rotation on leadership with Erik Lensch, CEO, and Eric Rubinstein, executive VP and CIO. For that semester, I spent my time learning as much as I could about the company, how it operates, how the different teams operate within themselves and each other, and how a deal moves through the company. That experience was super helpful to prepare me to join as a full-time intern.
As I was searching for internships, I'd never seen anything else of that nature that includes an externship and internship together. Comparing Leyline's program to other internships, I would not have received the same amount of instruction and learning that I received through this experience."
As I was searching for internships, I'd never seen anything else of that nature that includes an externship and internship together. Comparing Leyline's program to other internships, I would not have received the same amount of instruction and learning that I received through this experience, had I gone with solely a summer internship or externship. I definitely thought this was the best opportunity for me, especially since I'm still exploring what I would like to do in a career. This program allowed me to see all the different aspects of a company in-depth.
That's incredible. During your time at Leyline, have you worked more or learned more?
I was definitely more focused on learning. I enjoyed doing new projects, such as creating spreadsheets for contacts, working with different team members to learn more about different services of the company. In the different jobs, I got to take whatever I learned and actually put it into action. I spent a lot of time shadowing calls, listening in, learning how everything operates, what different documents are, why certain documents are necessary, why things move a certain way, and things like that. So, it was definitely more learning-based, even when I was working on projects.
Can you speak on the importance of learning preparing you for the internship?
I feel like having time dedicated to learning is the best way to be brought in for an internship. I spent a whole semester learning about the company. Especially with something as complex as renewable energy lending, I think it's very important to spend time getting this in-depth learning, because for somebody coming in without already having a background in renewables or lending, it would be very confusing.
I feel like having time dedicated to learning is the best way to be brought in for an internship. I spent a whole semester learning about the company. Especially with something as complex as renewable energy lending, I think it's very important to spend time getting this in-depth learning.
What about working with Leyline surprised you?
When I first started, I knew about the basics of renewables, but it was the lending part that I never knew much about. I was also surprised how broad the renewables industry is when you are working to get things accomplished. Going through my rotations, I heard about things I was learning in class as a business major. I didn't realize how many different things come from various disciplines. It isn't just engineering or science, it is a mixture of so many different areas. That is something I didn't expect beforehand, and it was super helpful doing it while in school, because I was able to see those parallels.
Leyline is entrepreneurship heavy. Was there anything about the startup process that you didn't learn in school?
I would say that working at Leyline gave me a new perspective on concepts that I had learned about on the basic level in school. When I first started, I had conversations with Erik Lensch about his experience starting Leyline. Learning firsthand from someone who started his own company about the things that he learned, his struggles, and his successes, it gave me a better understanding of the startup process.
The Leyline internships involve rotations within each department. What happens at the end of each rotation?
I had a check-in with my advisor at the end of every two-week rotation. In those check-ins, I reflected on my rotation with that particular team; how they used me, what I did, aspects I enjoyed, aspects I didn't enjoy, and how the internship was going as a whole. Then, I conducted debriefs within the rotation, which were based on the calls I participated in to make sure I understood what I was learning throughout the process.
What are your takeaways from the rotations?
I think the biggest takeaway I have had is not being afraid to ask questions. With something as complex as renewable energy capital, you must ask questions if you do not understand. When I first started, I was a little bit more hesitant to ask questions, because everyone here already knows and is used to how everything works. Coming in without the same base of knowledge, it was a little intimidating at first. Once I was on my third and fourth rotation with technical services and asset management, they pulled it out of me and told me it was okay to not know everything and ask questions if I was ever confused.
What about working with Leyline has piqued your interest most?
I think what piqued my interest the most was project finance. It was cool to see the team closing deals, knowing all the work they did going into it and the different things I had to make sure were in place. Seeing how the project finance team operated with the other teams was interesting, because they really had to work with every single team to get those deals done. I really enjoyed that rotation and seeing the team do what they do best.