This post is part of a series honoring the spirit of adventure and courage in Bluesource employees. We are proud to celebrate the experiences of our staff that model for us an incredible drive and perseverance.
On May 11, 2019 Jamie MacKinnon, Vice President, graduated from Vermont Law School with a Masters of Environmental Law and Policy. We caught up with Jamie this week to hear about his experience and celebrate the milestone.
Jamie was already working in climate mitigation when he began to see environmental policy as the heartbeat of climate action—and inaction. In managing climate change and energy efficiency for companies in the oil and gas and consumer goods sectors, understanding and navigating environmental policy was an increasingly important part of the job. However, it was an area where Jamie felt he lacked the knowledge to be effective in the analysis of policy analysis and advocacy. He says it “just made sense” to pursue more knowledge and gain a greater understanding of the subject.
What made natural sense to Jamie feels incredibly daunting to some. He was employed fulltime and was already balancing life and work. Now, he was adding another thing to balance.
Most of us picture ‘balance’ as a scale that is perfectly equal, floating in the exact proportion of work and play that equals happiness. When we asked Jamie about balance, he laughed. “Balance is just hard,” he said. He described his normal as about 45% work, 45% study, and 10% life. He credits his degree (and sanity) in large part to his family. “You know, you come home from work and you study. You wake up early on Saturday and you study. I’m thankful that I had my family around me.”
Jamie admits that the graduate program was a daunting prospect at first There were some big decisions he had to make along the way that helped him succeed. For example, when Jamie accepted his job at Bluesource, he was already one year into the graduate program. A new job brings its own set of challenges, so he took a year off from school to adjust to his new role. The next year, he was right back to studying.
He found a work- life-school balance that worked for him. He got so into a groove, actually, that he described turning in his last assignment as “anti-climactic.” Turning in that last paper just didn’t feel like The End. Instead, it was the first weekend after courses wrapped up. He found himself at home, early on a Saturday morning, with no studying to do. Jamie describes it as almost a feeling of disbelief; that “whaaaaaat?” feeling you get when you’re cautiously optimistic that something great just happened.
And for Jamie, it did. He walked across the stage in his commencement ceremony on May 11, 2019 to accept his Masters of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. (With an impressive 3.96 GPA, we’d like to add.)
When we asked Jamie if he had advice for anyone considering a degree while working, he paused for a long moment in reflection. “Practically,” he said, “consider the format and combination of online/on-campus classes.” He was hesitant about online classes at first, but they turned out to be an incredible tool. The program’s format allowed Jamie the flexibility that he needed to be successful. He ended up enjoying the online courses and his initial trepidation was unfounded.
Jamie had another piece of sage advice that is applicable to all of us. “There’s never a perfect time,” he says. “There will always be hurdles. But if you’re interested in something—if you have the motivation and the support—then do it. You can spend your whole life waiting for ‘the perfect time’ when, in reality, it’s right now.”