Why I Do What I Do Part 1: My Day Job

by Jennifer Haynie @JenniferHaynie1

I get lots of questions about being a writer. One of them is: “Have you ever wanted to quit your day job and just write?” Of course, I’d love to do that. Truth be told, my day job brings in a steady income. Writing? Not so much. But there’s something else.

I love my day job.

How I wound up working for the Division of Water Infrastructure at the NC Department of Environmental Quality is somewhat of a journey. In high school, I completed a ton of career testing, and it pointed to two things. Being a writer. And being a petroleum engineer. I’ll talk about the writing part next week.

And the petroleum engineer thing? It simply showed I had a technical, detailed side.

Through a long path of schooling and first jobs, I finally found my forever home in 2006 at the Division, or a previous rendition of it. I’ve been there for over thirteen years now. Why have I stayed so long when, in today’s economic climate, people seem to change jobs like shoes sometimes?

It’s in my blood. This is how I remember it. I never knew my maternal grandfather because he died when my mother was in college. Over the years, she talked a lot about him. My grandfather married my grandmother during the Depression years. They were both in college. Due to the Depression, he had to quit school. To support his bride, he became water meter reader. Their family grew with two daughters, and they moved all over West Virginia until he eventually became a water treatment plant superintendent in Williamson. From there, he made a final move with his family to Aiken, SC, where he worked at the Savannah River Plant as a water quality engineer. When beginning my career, working in utility management never crossed my mind, but I find it interesting that I’m happiest working in a sector where my grandfather worked.

I like helping people. One of the greatest frustrations I had in working in two of the jobs I had was that never saw any results of my efforts. We’d get close to finishing a project, get a new supervisor on the client side of things, and have to start all over again. Or, worse, the project would simply stop. Frustrating, to say the least. In my current job, our Division provides funding for water and wastewater infrastructure in North Carolina. There’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing a project in which you had a hand, come to fruition from the ground up. And the funds we provide help communities improve their water and sewer infrastructure.

I love the people I work with. I’ve always liked to joke that it’s not the subject matter that makes the job but the people I work with. I’m doubly lucky in my day job. I like the subject matter, and my coworkers are some of the best people I know. They love their jobs. They’re good at what they do. They like to have fun because, hey, paper pushing seems like drag at times. But more than that, we’re like a family at work. A unique family. We may quibble at times. We may get frustrated, but one thing I know is that if someone goes down due to a family emergency or illness, others step up and fill the void until they’re back on their feet. That is a true blessing.

Someday I’d like to write full time. But I’m enjoying my day job as well. Work-wise, it’s my forever home.

Question: If you work full-time or part-time what is your favorite part of your job?

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