Tag: Young Professional

NEWEA Young Professionals Summit: What I learned about Empathy and Strength

Photo shows three young professionals, including Monika Ingalls, meeting and networking at the NEWEA Summit

On Sunday January 26, 2020, the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA), partnered with New England Water Works Association, held a Young Professionals Summit to bring together young professionals (YPs) from the water and wastewater industries to hear from leaders in their profession and network with peers across New England. I was intrigued by this summit as I believe networking is important to furthering one’s professional career, as well as listening to those who are leaders and considering advice that they offer.

The NEWEA Young Professional Summit began with opening remarks and a large speed networking activity. This was a great way to get to know fellow YPs in the New England area. There were YPs from other consulting firms, public works departments, and graduate students. NEWEA provided several guiding questions and from there it was interesting to hear what projects other firms and municipalities were working on. One YP whom I spoke with, who was a graduate student from UNH, talked a bit about her research into removal of pharmaceuticals from water, which she was presenting in a session on Monday.

Empathetic Professionals

After four rounds of swapping partners and networking, we returned to our tables and prepared for a speech by Dr. Claire Baldwin, from CDM Smith. She spoke on the importance of empathy as engineers and as future leaders in our profession; it’s important as engineers to consider how our actions and designs will affect everyone, not just people with similar outlooks on life as us.

One example that she mentioned that I felt was especially powerful was an image of an older person with a walker attempting to climb up a steep slope next to stairs – it is clear in the image that those who are unable to use stairs were not considered during the design process. She pushed the importance of putting oneself into the shoes of all people who will be effected by a project.

Water’s Inspirational Future

Part of the day included the documentary Brave Blue World. The Water Environment Federation helped partner to create this film which provided a positive outlook on the future issues with water that the world will be faced with. It covered many different areas globally and presented entrepreneurs and scientists who are all doing their part to help solve their respective water issues. Once we viewed the documentary, we moved into a discussion about the movie and were tasked with creating panel questions for different audiences: high school students, the general public, and public officials in an area where a screening may be held. Overall, I felt this showing left me with an inkling of hope for the future – while there are problems that will become more prevalent, there will always be individuals to step up to the challenge and help the world and its inhabitants.

Strengths in Career Pathways

After this session, another speaker, Hannah Mento of Mento Mindset presented about finding what our strengths are and using these strengths to improve our creativity at work. This presentation was interesting and she helped guide us as we thought to ourselves what our strengths are, even going as far as messaging people we know to tell us what they feel our strengths are; and pushed us to consider these strengths moving forward in our careers to help improve our productivity and happiness with our jobs. It was interesting to hear the variety of strengths people discovered about themselves, whether it be communication, listening, organizational, etc. and to see whether there were strengths that we all had since we are all young engineers.

Hearing From other Young Professionals & Key Takeaways

Finally, two professionals were able to chronicle their first years as engineers and field questions from any of the YPs in the room during a panel discussion. One takeaway from this panel was the importance of remembering that it takes time to come into your own as a professional and not to feel discouraged if it is taking longer than expected.

After closing remarks, I had the opportunity to introduce myself to the president-elect of NEWEA, Jennifer Kelly Lachmayr, as well as talk with a few YPs who were new to the New England area. All in all, this was a good experience to connect with other young professionals throughout New England and to hear from speakers who wanted to help us grow more into our careers. After exploring my strengths and connecting with the professionals at the event, I am excited to participate more as a member of NEWEA and learn more from the professionals associated with the organization.

Photo credit: Charlie Tyler/NEWEA. See the full album.

Getting the Most out of Your First Entry-Level Position

Entry-level positions are more important than one may think. They are a chance to get a feel for the work world, establish some independence, and put your best skills to work. The thought of beginning a career is exciting, yet a bit daunting for some people, especially since you do not know what to expect. Although I never initially considered working at an engineering firm, landing my first job at Hoyle, Tanner has been the greatest career gift I could have received. Only six weeks have gone by since I started at Hoyle, Tanner, but I have already learned so much about marketing (and even a bit about engineering) and appreciating the value of an entry-level job.

Before being offered a position at Hoyle, Tanner, there were general rules I had to remember when searching for my first job. Keeping an open mind was extremely important during the job-searching process, especially for someone like me, a college graduate with little experience. I never dreamed of working at an engineering firm, especially as an English major. The thought never even crossed my mind. Marketing did interest me, but I was unaware that it could accompany engineering. Turns out, not only do marketing and engineering work well together, but they also need each other in order to accomplish project goals. Applying to anything and everything was crucial. It was important for me to not hold any judgements or preconceived notions about a particular job or industry.

Taking a step out of my comfort zone was also necessary. Finding a first job is daunting enough, especially with meeting new people, adapting to an unfamiliar office culture, navigating through a new area, and learning a job that may seem impossible to grasp at first. However, the only way to learn is by doing things that appear scary and out of reach. I decided to embrace my inexperience and to learn as much as I can from all different people. Also, I am grateful that I looked into all industries, even the ones that I never thought would have a place for me. There are so many jobs that people do not know exist, and you can tailor your skills to more positions than you think possible.

Despite the initial challenges of an entry-level positon, first jobs upon graduation are extremely valuable in setting the foundation for a successful career. Especially for individuals with a versatile college major, a wide set of interests, or uncertainty with their career path, an entry-level positon gives you the chance to try out a new industry and learn as much as you can. As I learned at Hoyle, Tanner, education and curiosity do not end after graduation.

New jobs and experiences are beneficial no matter the company, but Hoyle, Tanner definitely has a lot to offer to young professionals looking to build a career. First of all, the Manchester, New Hampshire headquarters are a bit on the smaller side, especially the marketing department. A small-scale company is extremely beneficial to recent graduates and to individuals new to the career world. First of all, you can never say, “That’s not part of my job.” In a smaller department, everyone does everything. This may be a bit intimidating to an individual who is unfamiliar with the company and with the job, but you learn how to do a variety of different tasks. For example, when building proposals, I learned how to use the computer applications, perform edits, communicate and work with a variety of people, and help in the printing, binding, and shipping process. From beginning to end, I am involved in almost all aspects of the process, not just a small piece of it.

At Hoyle, Tanner, I also have the opportunity to learn about engineering, an industry I had very little experience in upon graduation. I have the privilege of working with highly-skilled engineers, getting a taste of what the industry is about and the important impact it makes on everyday life. I never studied engineering before, but I now have the opportunity to work with engineering information and promote Hoyle, Tanner services. At the entry-level, Hoyle, Tanner exposes me to all areas of the company, helping me learn new things that I otherwise would never have discovered before.

Lastly, building relationships with the people I work with at Hoyle, Tanner comes naturally due to the essence of the environment. I must work directly with people, so therefore I get to know them better than if I rarely met with them face-to-face. On an average day, I work with people in marketing, in various engineering departments, and in printing. We respect each other as people, but also as coworkers because each person is absolutely essential in reaching our shared project goal, such as a printed proposal marketing the engineering expertise at Hoyle, Tanner.

For an individual out of college with little to no formal work experience, Hoyle, Tanner has plenty to offer in the way of multi-tasking, learning how to perform new job duties, communicating with a diverse group of people, and laying down a strong foundation to build a prosperous career on. Not only am I in a field that interests me, but I also experience new things every day that help me learn and grow as a young professional. Hopefully, I can help Hoyle, Tanner grow and continue to succeed, just like the company does for me.

Written by Abigael Donahue