One year ago, I had decided to leave a job that cared as little for me as I did for it. My evenings were consumed with job hunting and a determination to find a way to break out of the rut I was stuck in. Then, I found an ad for Water Professionals International and, with encouragement from my husband, decided to apply. From my first interview, I knew this organization was different. The questions were aimed to see how I would fit with the team, not just the position. It was an early sign that the association cared for the work environment as much as the work quality.
I made sure to do some research before walking into the office for my first day. I knew that WPI was responsible for certification of water and wastewater operators, but was unaware of the scope of work that such a small team was responsible for. I had always assumed that there was a certain hecticness to be expected in association work; it became clear that there was an abundance of dedication and drive.
The first few months, I was excited to absorb as much information as I could. This was my first experience with nonprofit work and working with the water/wastewater industry, so there was a lot to take in. Luckily, the number of resources and contacts proved to be more helpful than overwhelming.
I was immediately working on projects, like preparing our new blog to launch and assisting with plans for the Innovation in Certification conference. Soon enough, I was traveling to assist with meetings for exam development, touring facilities, and running around Clearwater, Florida, to ensure the conference went smoothly. The job was continuing to prove to be invigorating and around the six month mark, I could confidently say I had found a career to develop instead of a job to survive.
The work was constant; if I wasn’t learning the ins and outs of certification, then I was developing networking skills, or learning new reports. In the past, I was in occupations where multitasking was inevitable, but the work I was learning to love with WPI was the most widespread set of skills that I have had to use. Luckily for me, the industry had proven to be full of grace and patience.
Reflecting on the start of my career here, I am truly inspired by the community. I have seen first hand how invested operators are and the commitment they have for the work they do and their communities. It is clear to see that trainers and supervisors take pride in their operators. Everyone I have encountered–activists, operators, board members, volunteers, and more–has had a devotion to clean water and raising industry standards internationally.
Though there is still much to learn, I am excited to continue to develop in the association . The team around me and the guidance they have provided is unmatched and I strive to make them proud.