Standing in front of a room filled with more than 100 energy sector leaders, Anda Kukaj’s voice was firm and her message clear.
“I invite young men and women to consider the possibility of developing a successful career in the energy sector because there is a need—and, most importantly, there is room for everyone's contribution, regardless of age or gender,” she asserted.
Anda is an electrical engineer focused on solar energy. After earning a university degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Pristina and an associates’ degree in applied engineering technology in the United States, she then completed an internship at ELEN, a Kosovan renewable energy developer, facilitated through USAID Energy Sustainability Activity internship initiative.
As part of the internship, Anda was mentored by the Association of Women in the Energy Sector in Kosovo(link is external) (AWESK). Founded in 2017 with USAID support, AWESK is the first civil society organization in Kosovo focusing on women’s participation in the energy sector. With more than 170 members, the association’s goal is to advance gender diversity through mentoring, networking, skills training and career development. The bi-monthly mentoring sessions for 15 interns included tailored guidance and expertise from eight women professionals in Kosovo’s energy sector—a key collaboration given that just 7 percent of employees in the energy sector are women.
Anda, who is now a member of AWESK, spoke at the association’s first-ever conference(link is external) on September 27.
“The New Energy Internship’s approach to connecting young people to the labor market has given many of us the opportunity to form new friendships with people who share common goals,” she explained to conference participants. “We understand the importance of networking in this program's cooperative approach while also being aware of the barriers in this sector and the most efficient ways to overcome them.”
The second cohort of the USAID New Energy Internship program begins this October with 15 new placements throughout multiple private and public energy sector institutions across Kosovo.