Further Your Career: Volunteer


Volunteering is more than just an act of raising your hand or being eager to take part. Volunteering can send you on an adventure!

Years ago, I found myself at a crossroad. I was starting a new career and was clueless to the world of water and wastewater. The plant where I worked hosted a local section meeting for wastewater operators. They provided technical training, hot coffee, tasty food, and a plant tour, what more could an operator ask for?

Apparently, the section’s leadership had an ask of their own. “We need volunteers. Any takers?” Me, being enthusiastic and willing to learn new things, raised my hand. I am still convinced my actions were assisted by the sugar rush from all the free donuts, but it was the start of my journey in volunteer work!

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Andy O’Neill, PO

Twenty-two years have passed since then, and during that time, I have had the opportunity to see, touch, and try a lot in the world of water. Over the years as a volunteer in our industry, there is one thing that stands out. The work cannot be done alone. We need to continue in a collaborative approach. Being an active volunteer not only benefits the entire community, but volunteering can also enable you to try new things in a safe environment.

Not only has volunteering given me the chance to practice leadership skills and improve technical knowledge, but it has built peer relationships that go well beyond wastewater. As my peer group expands, so do new opportunities. Every time I volunteer, I can share my new experiences and acquire skills.

Volunteering should be viewed as a pathway for skill development. I am a true believer that good operators are also good students. The same can be said about great operators being great students. Great operators are effective in communication and proficient in problem solving. Volunteering allows for peer-to-peer interaction where you can develop various skills.

Just this month I had the chance to learn about public education and outreach. What a wonderful way to explain what an operator does. Volunteering is an easy way to add excitement to your career! Make your job Fun! Volunteer with fun people!


In 2023, Andy O’Neill was awarded the WPI Jess Jones Excellence in Service Award for his eager dedication to the industry and impressive line of volunteer work. WPI is proud to work with Andy, and many volunteers like him. To find out more about volunteer opportunities with WPI, please visit our website!



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