By Jessica Prince, associate engineer, CH2M HILL Water Business Group

In a global company of 30,000, you might think that it’s easy to fall through the cracks and be just a number; just a replaceable cog. But since my first day at CH2M HILL as an intern more than nine years ago, I’ve always felt like a valued part of the team and had people to go to with my questions or concerns or ideas who really cared about me—as an individual and as part of the CH2M HILL family. I have found that at CH2M HILL there is always someone looking out for me, supporting me, and giving me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and become the well-rounded professional and individual I want to be.

Our family may be big, but when you can pick up a phone or send out an email to someone you’ve never met with a question and get your answer and more from someone who is just excited about the topic as you are, well, the company feels pretty small. In fact, when I started the CH2M HILL San Diego office had only 9 people (where was this mega company I had read about online, I amusingly wondered?) and while it has grown to more than 50, I still know everybody, as well as many folks in my geography and even region.

JuMP, the CH2M HILL Water Business Group’s internal junior and mid-level professional network, also helped me expand my network, along with my professional and technical skills, and has led to relationships that will benefit me my whole career (not to mention a number of life-long friends). I had always been heavily involved and held leadership positions in the local chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and its Younger Member Forum, and JuMP was a great CH2M HILL-only supplement to that peer-networking and on-going learning I love. While I’ve always been shy, JuMP participation has helped push me in my leadership and public speaking skills, and since becoming a member I’ve had the opportunity to hold a number of leadership positions, including Panel Chair. It’s also given me the chance to help other people network and find workflow, or just get better integrated into the CH2M HILL family. The skills I developed during these activities have helped me to become more than “just an engineer,” and have led to roles like Deputy Operations Lead and Southwest Geography Staffing lead that I might not otherwise have been considered for. I also feel blessed to be able to take on these roles in addition to my every day technical work even as I have transitioned to working only part-time as I have started my own family. I feel so fortunate to have the support of my colleagues to achieve work-life balance while still advancing my career. I’m not sure if that would happen if I worked somewhere else.

I enjoy coming into the office because it means stimulating conversations with great people and working with our clients to solve their problems. I also get to learn many new things every day. CH2M HILL has formal continuing education programs (like CH2M HILL University or supporting professional conference attendance) or less formal “TAIBOS” and “brown bags” that help keep me up-to-date on the latest technology and approaches and expand my working knowledge base with resources to answer any questions I may have. I’ve also found mentorship to be an informally ongoing activity every step of the way here at CH2M HILL. I’ve been fortunate that the people I work for take mentorship to heart and recognize its importance, taking the time to give me background and answer questions so that I feel like I am part of the larger project, not just an engineer working on one technical component. In particular, my operations lead Rich Pyle has been a great mentor and supportive and is really good about pushing me to do new things; Jennifer Henke in Seattle has always been a great mentor on the technical side; and Sarah Isbell has been a great peer mentor for professional and leadership development and is always there for me to bounce ideas off of.

One project in particular stands out in my mind as an example of informal mentorship and the camaraderie that is formed quickly amongst those of us joined together to solve the world’s toughest problems. I began working on a master planning project when I was still just an intern that we worked on for five years. During that time there were multiple project managers on both the CH2M HILL and client side that made sure I was very involved. Not all junior engineers get to attend client meetings or be a part of the discussion of every aspect of the project, but that is exactly what happened and I learned an incredible amount during that time. Colleagues from our Santa Anna office were a part of the team, and when we had our final deliverable due the week before Christmas we spent two weeks working together in a single conference room. It was the most fun I have ever had with a team! We were working really late every evening, but we were laughing and having a great time and really enjoying the work we were doing and spending time with each other.  The project was so exciting that we just didn’t care about the late hours. We got it all done and wrapped up and submitted on time, and the client was really happy. So was I.

After nearly 10 years at CH2M HILL, I still think that this is not only a great place to work, but the very best place to work—and our recent recognition of being named to the 2013 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list demonstrates that I’m not the only CH2M HILL employee who thinks so. When a former college peer or colleague ask why I like working for CH2M HILL it always takes me a moment to answer because there are so many reasons why I do. Sometimes I just have to say I can’t think of anything I don’t like. In my personal experience, I have always felt that the work environment at CH2M HILL encourages collaboration rather than competition, something that has always come more naturally to me. Teamwork, safety, and doing the right thing are just a few aspects of our culture that each employee and client will quickly learn is part of everything we do. I look forward to many more years as part of the CH2M HILL family.

Jessica is a water engineer and has been with CH2M HILL since 2003 when she began as an intern prior to graduating the following year from San Diego State University. She has primarily been involved with water and recycled water system planning and hydraulic modeling projects. On top of challenging and interesting project work what makes her excited to come to work each day is taking on roles for the JuMP network, her local office, and geography.