Interested in a job or internship that emphasizes sustainability? Look no further than the Career Development Center. The CDC offers numerous resources that allow you to connect with alumni working in your fields of interest. Any student can go onto the CDC’s website and fill out the Alumni Information Request Form.

Juniors and seniors can also use the online alumni directory, Mac-Direct to search for alumni based on their major, location, employer, occupation, job title, industry etc. Once connecting with alumni scheduling an informational interview is a great way to learn about a particular field or industry.

The main job-searching tool used by Macalester students is MC2 (Macalester Career Connection). On MC2 students can sign in with their Macalester username and password to access links to jobs, fellowships and internship postings. Through this database you can access postings from the Liberal Arts Career Network and Going Global, a database that contains country specific listings. Follow this link for a quick guide on how to use the Career Resources. 

Tips on Careers in Sustainability directly from your Sustainability Manager. 

Still unsure? Read about how some recent graduates are working in Sustainability. 

Alumni Spotlight 

Li Guan, Graduate Class of 2015 
Environmental Studies Major and Economics Minor 

CURRENT JOB

In June of 2016 Li joined Amazon working with the social responsibility team as a social responsibility program manager in Shenzhen, China, doing social audits and engaging with suppliers focusing on improving issues around ethics within the supply chain. Li credits getting thsi job through a valuable connection she made during her time at Macalester. In 2015 the US Director of Social Responsibility from Amazon visited Macalester to give a Ted Talk like presentation. At the time she was doing freelance work with organizations like BSR and the Atlantic. After her presentation Li did an informational interview with her and they connected on Linkedin. Eventually she posted a job and Li wrote an email expressing her interest, and later got the job. 

MEMORABLE SUSTAINABILITY PROJECTS WHILE AT MACALESTER 

Li Guan graduated in 2015 with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Economics. Looking back at her time at Macalester Li fondly remembers starting an Empty Bowls event on campus with art professor Gary Erickson. Empty Bowls is an international project to fight hunger. Guests were served a simple meal of bread and soup and were able to choose from a large selection of ceramic bowls made by students in one of Gary’s classes. The proceeds went on to benefit Second Harvest Heartland. Li was also an active member of MacCares and participated in dirty trainings, educating first years on how to recycle correctly on campus. 

While at Macalester Li worked with the Civic Engagement Center coordinating volunteer opportunities and helping to organize events within the center’s environment and sustainability service area. Through this job Li was able to work with many community partners throughout the twin cities such as Urban Roots, Great Plains Institute, Youth Farming, and the Great River Greening. One of the biggest benefits of working at the CEC was that it allowed Li to develop her communication skills both oral and written, forcing her out of her comfort zone. 

After college Li worked as a Sustainability Intern for Metro Transit. While at Metro Transit she worked on project management, specifically attempting to reduce waste and water contamination at Metro Transit’s facilities, which at the time included 5 large bus garages, support facilities, and office buildings. 

SUSTAINABILITY IN DAILY LIFE 

When asked to offer advice for students who are interested in a career in sustainability, Li said that students should allow their time at Macalester to help them figure out where their true passions lie. Figuring out what you are interested in only emerges after a lot of trial and error. You need to put yourself out there and have new experiences to see what it is that you enjoy. 

Brianna Besch, Class of 2013
Geography and International Studies Major Brianna Besch, Alumni Interviews.jpg

Due to Brianna’s unique upbringing in Atlanta, Georgia, Almaty, Kazakhastan, and Cairo, Egypt, she knew that she wanted to go to a school with a strong international focus; Macalester seemed like the perfect fit. Brianna graduated in 2013, majoring in Geography, International Studies with a concentration in International Development, and a minor in physics. 

MOST MEMORABLE SUSTAINABILITY PROJECTS AT MAC 

During her time at Macalester, Brianna served as the main senior facilitator for the student organization MacCares, helping to revitalize and refocus the org to bring different groups together around sustainability issues. She was also a strong advocate for the bottled water ban on campus, working closely with the Sustainability Advisory Committee on campus on which she later served as a student representative. Brianna also helped start the conversation about solar energy on campus. 

CURRENT JOB 

The summer after graduating, Brianna had an internship with National Geographic, working in their education foundation on online education material. She said it was “a lot of grunt work, monitoring, evaluating, and putting the information up online, as well as web development, excel work and statistics.” She praised National Geographic as a “fantastic place to work” and a “wonderful organization.” 

After completing her 9-month internship, Brianna followed in the footsteps of her parents and joined the Peace Corps, where she was assigned to work in Ethiopia as an agriculture/environment volunteer. There she worked on a wide range of projects, including watershed mapping for community development, offering backyard gardening trainings for women, and teaching English and computer skills to middle school students. She also developed an open source GIS training for Peace Corps volunteers and staff. 

Brianna is currently starting her new job at the EPA in the Office of Global Affairs and Policy in Washington D.C., where she’ll be working on trans-boundary environmental issues with other policy bodies like the UN and the Arctic Council. 

CAREER ADVICE 

When asked what advice she had for other students who were interested in a career in sustainability, Brianna emphasized “getting involved in something other than class, like an internship, a project that your passionate about, or a student org. Academic experience is great and necessary, but you need to get out of the bubble a bit.” Brianna says “Internships really worked for me, I love my student orgs, and the IGC student council was a fantastic experience.” She emphasizes “finding stuff that makes you excited and hopeful” stressing that “working on issues that are only depressing is too hard and you’ll burn out.” 

HOW DOES SUSTAINABILITY FIT IN DAILY LIFE? 

During her time at Macalester, Brianna said that she was able to grow into her interest of international environmental issues, saying that “Mac gave me hope for the future,” as well as “exciting and realistic solutions to big environmental problems.” Brianna said that to this day she continues to use sustainability in her daily work, highlighting how important it is to be mindful of your daily actions, reducing impact, and trying to find work that does not just pay the bills but you actually support philosophically. 

Sam Burlager ’15 
Environmental Studies Major, Political Science Minor 

Current Job: 

Sam is currently serving as a Green Corps member at the Stearn’s History Museum in Saint Cloud where she is working on environmental history and sustainability programming. Part of her work is developing environmental education programming for the Boys and Girls club. Sam said the highlight of this experience so far has been the personal connections made with individuals in the St. Cloud community. 

After Sam finishes up her time with the Green Corps she is headed to Southern California to work at High Trails Outdoor Science School in San Bernadino National Forest, where she will be teaching outdoor environmental education to fifth and sixth graders. 

Sam Berlager, Alumni Interview.jpg

Sam (right) with Akilah Sanders-Reed received Environmental Studies Summer Research Funds working on climate change adaptation with faculty members Christie Manning and Roopali Phadke. 

Most memorable Sustainability projects at mac 

When asked to look back at some of the most memorable environmental organizations or projects that Sam had been a part of during her time at Macalester, many moments came to mind. Sam highlighted the student organization MacCares and dirty trainings, a student-led initiative which teaches students how to properly compost and recycle so that Macalester can reach its zero waste goal by 2020. Another memorable project Sam emphasized was winning an action fund grant to do a Carrot Mob. A Carrot Mob is where instead of boycotting a business to punish them for bad practices, you reward a business for good practices. The Carrot Mob occured at El Norteño Restaurant in Minneapolis and the proceeds were set aside to support the owner’s commitment to improving energy efficiency in their restaurant. Sam also said she would always remember the summer research project she did working with the ES department on climate change adaption in Saint Paul with Christie Manning and Roopali Phadke. 

connections to the sustainability office 

White at Macalester Same also worked in the Sustainability Office. Sam emphasized that along with all of her academic work as a student, she learned a lot of excellent life skills and made a lot of excellent connections through her sustainability work that she wouldn’t have without Macalester. She learned how to collaborate and seek out connections. Looking back at her time at Macalester Sam said there isn’t really anything she would have done differently, however she does wish she had been more involved with MULCH, the community garden’s chickens. 

How does sustainability fit in daily life? 

When asked how sustainability fits into her daily life, Sam said “I use it constantly in my work. Sustainability is a way of thinking, like how can I waste fewer resources, do things more efficiently, and create the least harm.” Sam’s advice for students who are interested in a career in sustainability is “there are so many opportunities. You can bring sustainability into any job; it doesn’t have to be explicitly environmental studies related. Networking and connections do really matter. Utilize Macalester alumni and other students because Macalester connections really are pervasive throughout the Twin Cities and the world.