Ever drive your car around the neighborhood just to see the odometer click to a nice round number like 1,000? We can relate.
Our LinkedIn page was hovering around 998 followers so we decided to keep an eye on who joined us to keep up with the latest in Southern California water news.
We were delighted when Jessica Parks and her brother Ben Parks became our 999th and 1,000th followers on LinkedIn.
The siblings work in water in San Diego County. Jessica works for SCWC Patron member San Diego County Water Authority as a financial resources analyst and Ben is an engineering inspector with SCWC general member Vista Irrigation District.
We reached out to learn more about them and loved Jessica’s response: “We’re both water industry professionals and have been in water for 20 years. We do share a lot when it comes to water and water information, which is why we started following SCWC.”
With such a great answer, we figured we had to get to know Jessica and Ben better. Read on to learn more about why they started working in water and advice they would give to young people just starting out.
SCWC: Is there someone who inspired you to work in water?
Jessica: There have been many who have inspired me while working in water, but the way I started in water is by chance. I took a job in customer services at the City of Poway and worked in billing. Meeting water customers daily, I would get various questions about where our water comes from, conservation, and rates. This lead me on a quest to find answers, and as I learned more about water, the more interested I became. My inspiration started as I gathered information about how water comes to Southern California, treatment of water, conservation and water use efficiency. Over 20 years later, I’m still learning.
Ben: My journey into the water industry stemmed from my time in the Navy. While serving aboard the USS Denver I worked in what is known as the Oil Lab: testing fuel oil, lube oil, and water. It was here that I decided that I enjoyed working with water. After military service, I began taking Water Technology Courses at Palomar College and have met a lot of really great people working in the water industry, which fueled my desire to pursue a career working in water distribution.
SCWC: What advice would you give to yourself when you were new to the water industry?
Jessica: As I began my career in the water industry, I should have taken more water-related courses. Water is not just one avenue, but encompasses engineering, finance, treatment, distribution, customer service, etc. It’s all tied together. And I’ve learned that to be successful in the water industry, you need to know a little, and sometimes a lot, of everything to excel.
Ben: Keep pursuing higher education and continue networking with other water professionals. Taking these steps early on in your career has the potential to open doors you might have a harder time opening later.
SCWC: What advice would you share with young people starting out in the water industry today?
Jessica: For anyone starting a career in water, join water organizations or at the least, follow them on social media and subscribe to the email lists of any number of agencies from SCWC to the Association of California Water Agencies to your local water agency. There is a plethora of water information out there, and it’s great to read about what’s trending and to be able to connect with other water professionals around you.
Ben: In addition to working for a water agency, I am an adjunct professor teaching water distribution at Palomar College where I was a student 20 years ago. I tell people starting out in the water industry that you will get out of this career what you put into it. Never stop learning. There are so many different avenues that you can explore, much like I have. I started out in construction, then worked in operations, next in water quality, and now in engineering. Each of these positions has given me a foundation to build upon with the next position.