BA in Philosophy

Adam James, 2011

Adam James

What work are you doing now?

My first position out of Mason was developing public policy for clean energy and climate at the Center for American Progress. While there, I co-founded the Clean Energy Leadership Institute, which is a nonprofit that provides young professionals with technical expertise, leadership skills, and access to a professional community in order to build the next generation of clean energy leaders. I then moved to GTM Research, where I led that firm’s global downstream solar research practice. Recently I joined SolarCity as the Deputy Director for Global Strategy and Policy, where I will be helping the company expand into international markets.

What do you like about it?

All of my work has centered on the advancement of clean energy as a solution to climate change. My role at SolarCity is a great opportunity to engage with the implementation of those solutions, particularly given that the fastest growing economies in the world will also contribute significantly to emissions unless clean energy is an embedded part of that growth. My ongoing role with the Clean Energy Leadership Institute, now as chair, has been an incredibly rewarding way to ensure that young professionals have the tools and opportunities they need to make a positive impact on the world.

How did your degree in the college prepare you to do this work?

There was a specific turning point in my academic experience that led to my current career path. While pursuing a philosophy degree at Mason, I took a series of classes on environmental pragmatism with Professor Light. Those classes, and my subsequent independent study and internship with him, connected the framework of logical rigor with a real world issue where I could practice application.

What advice would you give current students about developing their careers?

While you are at Mason, I would strongly suggest approaching professors that teach subjects you are interested in. Because they have often been working in that field for a long time, they are well positioned to give some insight on future job opportunities. They can also connect you with immediate chances to work on those issues - whether through an independent study or an internship - which is an important gauge of whether the field you are considering would actually be a good career choice.