Alumni Stories: Caitlin Pixley

Pixley at work.

For anyone who wonders what someone “does” with an English degree, look no further than the story of Caitlin Pixley (BA 2008, MA English, 2010).
Caitlin currently works as a Conservation Program Associate at The Sierra Club‘s Atlantic Chapter.

“I do have to say that it’s a pretty great gig,” Caitlin writes to us. Caitlin’s journey to her current position is a typical one in today’s job market, where a liberal arts degree helps, not hinders, one’s prospects.

In her last semester as an undergraduate double-majoring as an English and Adolescence Education, she found herself in the position of not wanting to teach.

“It wasn’t the students, nor was it the idea of teaching in general,” she points out. Her “interests just shifted.”

Caitlin stayed on and got her Master’s in English “because I had had such a wonderful experience with the faculty and the small class sizes was something I had always enjoyed.”

“The inevitable was bound to happen,” she says: she would have to look for a job. Last November, she decided to see if the Saint Rose Career Center for direction.

“They encouraged me to find an internship in something I was interested in.” Since Caitlin helped co-found and co-lead the Environmental Club at Saint Rose as an undergrad, as well as focusing on environmental issues throughout her writing in Grad School, “I knew that this was an area where I really wanted to focus my strengths,” and with help from the career counselors, she found an internship with Environmental Advocates of New York, an organization that acts as a watchdog in New York when it comes to environmental issues in the State Legislature.

“I was their Public Policy intern and was exposed to the world of New York State politics,” Caitlin said. “I did everything from lobbying legislators to writing and editing memos of support and opposition on legislation.”

Once she finished with she internship in May, she started looking for jobs in that field, and was able to land a job with The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. The National Sierra Club is the oldest grassroots environmental organization in America, founded in 1892 in California. The Atlantic Chapter is a branch of the National Club and represents New York State.

“What I am doing in the “off-season” when legislators are not in session is researching the legislative priorities that we will focus on in 2011,” Caitlin says. “We are also doing a lot with political endorsements for the [November 2] elections.” Once the legislators are back in session Caitlin will be lobbying on environmental legislation as well as working with volunteers and interns.
“Needless to say, there is so much out there for English majors,” Caitlin points out. “You don’t just have to teach! I am constantly using the skills I developed and fine-tuned while at Saint Rose. I am continually learning and look forward to what the future will bring.”

“If anyone is interested in volunteering/lobbying on issues, please email me (caitlin pixley [at] sierraclub.org)!”

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