Few King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) employees imagined a career in clean water. Sure, Preston Beck was so sold on WTD’s mission that he got a degree in chemical engineering and came to work as a Project Control Engineer. Bob Isaac took a few left turns before following his father into a wastewater career in the Engineering Unit.
“I was hooked on the first treatment plant tour,” said Preston. “The work is really interesting, and the people here make it completely awesome.”
But most of us had no idea how many different careers are available in water systems. We didn’t know the rewards of providing such an essential service: clean water. We stumble on the opportunity to become wastewater engineers, project managers, operators, environmental planners, public involvement specialists, construction managers, and so on.
Half of WTD’s valued employees are expected to retire in 5 years. We want high school and college students to be aware of career opportunities. We host college interns for a summer or a year, and they do some amazing work for us, even if they choose a different career path in the end.
WTD hosted a high school career day at the Brightwater Center on April 1st. Forty-three students rode special buses to the Center. They spent several hours at a job-shadowing event to explore careers in clean water. WTD employees led short, hands-on sessions to show their work. They gathered back together to learn about paid summer internships, and how to apply.
Students from two special groups attended the event at Brightwater Center. The Pacific Science Center Discovery Corps puts young people at the front line, working with visitors. Students interact with guests to convey information and the Center’s mission. They also learn soft skills, such as turning an awkward question into an informative discussion. Students said the experience raised their confidence and helped them with communication at home and school.
The Vietnamese Friendship Association (VFA) supports students to make them college or career-ready. VFA programs remove barriers to success for recently arrived refugee and immigrant youth. One VFA student became interested in safety careers.
“It is so important to always keep people safe,” the student said. “It would be a very rewarding career for me.”
At the end of the sessions, a 2016 intern talked to the students about her experience and the value it brought her.
Career Day is rewarding for WTD employees, too. Someday, when asked whether they ever considered a career in wastewater, we know 43 young people will raise a hand.
Students can join the next career event at South Plant in Renton on May 6, 2017. Find more information and sign up here.
To learn more about all of the career opportunities in our agency – from accountant or chemist – visit: http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/dnrp/wtd/about/jobs.aspx