Today’s Industry Person of the Week is Caitlin McCormick, Administrative Assistant, CityWorks People + Places and a Consultant to the Pure Water San Diego Program. Here is what she had to share!
Q. How did you get started working in your field?
Caitlin: I entered the water industry somewhat by chance. I grew up with two full-time working parents, one of whom is a chemical engineer in the wastewater industry. Along with filing engineering documents for a few summers in high school, I briefly crossed paths with the water industry again. During one summer in college, as a photography intern for my town’s local newspaper, I had the opportunity to work onsite at a wastewater treatment plant. At the time, I didn’t consider that my work might eventually lead me back to where I began.
I’ve always had a passion for giving back and for being an active community player. Studying Photojournalism and Urban Studies in college provided me with insight and applicable real-world knowledge, although I was still unsure where I wanted my career to take me. A few years after graduation, I decided to change scenes. With wanderlust as my pilot, I hopped in my car and made my way across the country to San Diego.
After some scrambling, I eventually found a job with a construction company, where I stayed for a little over two years. Fast forward to 2018…as my job with the construction company wound down, I came across a job opportunity working as a consultant to the Pure Water San Diego Program. As I researched the program, I felt immediately drawn to the possibility of joining an organization focused on urban planning and environmental sustainability. After meeting the team, I knew it was the right fit.
Q. What do you love the most about your job? What are you most proud of?
Caitlin: I love working on a team that is dedicated to making a difference and giving back to the community. As many others in the industry can attest, this job requires long hours and quick turnarounds. I’m lucky to work among coworkers who have become teammates, mentors, and resources for me to dive deeper into the field.
Pure Water San Diego is made up of multiple projects that will clean recycled water to produce safe, high-quality drinking water and provide one-third of San Diego’s water supply locally by 2035. For years, this and similar water recycling programs have gone through many stages of drafting and re-drafting. Getting the community on board has been no small feat. I’m proud of the City’s resilience in getting this program up and running. I’m proud to play a role in a defining program that is the first of its kind, a program that will have a drastic effect on the daily lives of thousands.
Despite its abundance in the U.S., water is one of the most wasted resources in our country. Water is a human necessity that we let wash down the drain. We let our faucets, showers, and hoses run without a second thought. We often feel removed from the waste we create, when in reality our actions are the direct contributors to its existence. The Pure Water Program is an important model for combating our wastefulness and for building a sustainable future.
Q. What advice would you give to someone considering this line of work or new to the field?
Caitlin: This is a field that makes a difference. The work we do in the water industry isn’t always glamorous, but it has a direct impact on the livelihood of others. One of my coworkers told me once to “think of the water.” When times are tough, when you get to a point where your workload seems unbearable, when you hit figurative and sometimes literal walls, think of the water. Remember why you entered the field. Remember the good that you are contributing to the bigger picture. It’s easy to get stuck in the monotony…to give up when you’re met with criticism, but every action you set into motion has a reaction – even when you’re just the rookie on a professional team.
Work hard, appreciate where you are, and open yourself up to opportunities. Put yourself out there even when you have doubts. Chances come along, but you must be aware enough to notice and accept them. You are the driving force on the road you choose to venture.
Q. Can you talk about a project you recently worked on?
Caitlin: I’ve assisted numerous projects and events, including the annual Pure Water Day Open House, where members of the community were offered guided tours of the Pure Water Demonstration Facility and tastings of the purified water.
Most of my work consists of internal document editing and general office duties, so it’s rare for me to work outside of my cube. I was elated when the outreach department recently asked me to be the photographer for a photo catalog to document the progressing construction at the Program’s North City Water Reclamation Plant (NCWRP). NCWRP is an integral part of the Pure Water Program, distributing over 79 miles of reclaimed water throughout the cities of San Diego and Poway. This is one of the first of Pure Water’s projects to undergo construction; a milestone for the team.
Q. Anything else you would like to add?
Caitlin: I’m thankful to be part of the Pure Water San Diego Program. This job has reignited my love for learning and has inspired me to work toward a more defined career. I’m now back in school working toward a certification in technical writing, so I’ll be able to meld my love of writing with my passion for giving back to the community and the planet.
Working for the Pure Water Program has made me more acutely aware of how much waste I create, and how as a privileged society, we let so many resources go to waste. It continues to teach me to be a more mindful and well-informed individual. I’m excited for what lies ahead for my career and for the program as a whole.
Thank you, Caitlin, for your contributions to the Water / Wastewater Industry! We look forward to keeping up with you through the #PumpTalk Community!