It’s Not Always What You Know but Who You Know…
By Mary-Frances Klimek
Growing up, most of us focused on building what we know. Sure we wanted to have friends, but we didn’t focus so much on who we knew, and at that point in our development, that was probably a good thing. Once we were adults we realized that while for many of us our formal education ended, it was important that we continue to learn. For a while our points of contact and those that we could learn from was rather limited. That’s when we realized that who you know is important and, in many situations, even more so than the book knowledge that we learned along the way.
Let’s have a show of hands. How many of you dreamed about and planned to go into the wastewater field? Of those of you that work at a POTW, how many planned to be in the public sector? I am not surprised that few of you raised your hands. I know that some of you ended up in this field by chance, I know that I did. Maybe you saw a posting at school or online, or just maybe, a friend of yours told you about an opening at a utility or firm that he or she really enjoyed working for or even more likely, your mom’s friend told your mom and well you know the rest of the story.
As we all started our careers and possibly moved to different positions, or even different employers, we typically continued to build this group of people within our industry that were happy to answer our questions, help us out with operational issues or put us in contact with someone that could. We all needed those people that we could contact when we had a question, needed help or wanted to talk through an idea with. Pretty soon, we became those contacts for other and this wonderful cycle continues.
The big question becomes how do I find those people? Just last week, the Wisconsin Section had our August meeting. In order to make it work for as many as possible, we offered both in person and Zoom options. I know this isn’t perfect because meeting contacts and networking is more effective in person, at least for me, but give it a try and attend our November meeting. This meeting is unique because in addition to everything else that is discussed, the annual budget is presented and approved.
At the August meeting, we heard reports from all of the committees. There was discussion about what has taken place recently and what is coming up. Each committee had at least one representative present to report on these items. This is a great opportunity to meet these representatives in person, virtually or simply by sending a message through the Zoom chat.
Following the meeting, many attended the Brewer tailgate that was hosted by the YPs followed by the game. Talk about a great networking opportunity! Especially since the first place Brew Crew beat the second place Reds. It was a great night with plenty of conversations about latest projects, successes and even a few problems.
In addition to the quarterly meetings, the Wisconsin Section has some great conferences coming up that will offer great opportunities to learn about the latest way of doing things, as well as proposed regulations and even tricks of the trade.
Although you missed it for this year, the Industrial Pretreatment Seminar took place virtually August 24-25, 2021. Pretreatment departments are typically small groups and many experienced people are retiring. The theme this year was Back to Basics with a target audience of new pretreatment professionals. A lot of material was covered including an introduction to the pretreatment program, an update from the WDNR, discussions regarding emerging topics, and information on how to identify industries and conduct on-site inspections. There were also presentations on the importance of establishing sewer use ordinances, permits, limits, monitoring and enforcement plans. This seminar and others are great opportunities to meet colleagues.
Check out the CSWEA website under the Wisconsin tab and the dropdown events. Some of those seminars and conferences that are coming up in 2021 include the Northwoods Collection System Seminar, September 9th, Classic Collection Seminar, September 23rd, WEFTEC in Chicago, October 16th – 20th and the Operations Seminar, November 10th. There are plenty of additional opportunities to learn and develop your network in 2022.
While you are on the CSWEA website, take a look around and pay attention to the awards that will soon be up for nomination. Consider nominating someone from your network. There is no greater honor than being recognized by one’s peers and those that we network with.
If you have a question, concern or just something you want a sounding board for, feel free to contact me. I am happy to be part of your network and have you as part of mine.