The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Caitlin Gould ’06 (Political Science BA, Public Policy & Administration MA) on Her Work in Environmental Policy

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Caitlin Gould knew she wanted to work in environmental policy since she was fresh out of undergraduate school at the University of Massachusetts. She always stayed late to recycle all of the paper thrown out at the law firm where she was a paralegal. Her passion for the environment led to her current position coordinating the Interagency Working Group on the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA), a role she has held through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration since August 2014. In this position, she writes and edits reports to Congress, collaborating with interagency partners, engaging with non-Federal stakeholders, and working with the Executive Office of the President and Congress.

Prior to joining to NOAA, Caitlin worked at The Pew Charitable Trusts for five years, most recently advocating for global shark conservation measures in Panama and the Caribbean.

In addition to her BA, she has a Master's Degree in Public Policy & Administration, also from UMass, with a focus on energy and environmental policy. While she was an undergrad, Caitlin was a member of her house council. She was also part of the Army ROTC and a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority. 

In what ways did the experiences you had at UMass contribute to your current success? 

I attribute a lot of my success to the professors I had at UMass. I still think that it's pretty incredible that, especially given the size of the university, I received such individual attention from faculty in classes, and also that so many were invested in my professional development. So many of them encouraged me to incorporate my passions into my work and to explore independent study. This laid the groundwork for me applying to graduate school and knowing the policy areas that interested me. It also gave me good writing samples for when I applied to jobs. Additionally, I have used French in my professional career far more than I ever expected I would, and I strongly encourage students to have at least basic competency of a foreign language.

What are one or two things you wish you had done while you were at UMass?

I really wish I’d studied abroad! You just don’t get chances to live abroad – let alone, live anywhere without worrying about visas too much – once you’re out of college. Other than that, the tree-climbing class for forestry majors always seemed like fun.

What is one piece of advice you would give to current UMass students?

What you do now really can impact the direction your career takes. While you're in school, do at least one meaningful internship or job that directly relates to where you see yourself in 5 years.