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Sharing our H2Opportunity to Recruit the Next Generation

November 9, 2018  |  Kim Holland, Water & Sewer Director, Marietta Power and Water
This article appeared in the November 2018 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
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Holland
I must admit, I am not a morning person. My husband would prob­ably say that this is a tremendous understatement. After my alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. and I claw my way out of the bed, I have to take a shower and brush my teeth before I would consider myself an actual human. Even after that, I still need an hour or two to ease into the day, but the show­er is an absolute necessity to wake up. What about you? How do you start your day? Shower? Manda­tory cup of coffee? Whatever your answer, I bet the first minutes of every single day begin with using water in some way.
 
Water is such a fundamental part of our lives, we often take it for granted. Especially here in the U.S., most people don’t appreciate the role that wa­ter plays in their daily life because they have never had to go without it. Virtually there’s an unlimited amount of safe and affordable drinking water deliv­ered to your tap, available at any moment. Once the water is used, the wastewater runs down the drain to be collected and safely transported for treatment and returned to the environment. Water profession­als are the people who make all this happen. In ad­dition, they also collect and divert stormwater to keep our roads from flooding and landscape from washing away. Water professionals design, manage and operate the systems and infrastructure it takes to bring this about—from the treatment plants to the water towers, water mains, hydrants, waste­water mains, manholes and pump stations to the stormwater pipes and culverts. Every cup of coffee, every hot shower, every load of clean laundry, ev­ery flush in the restroom, every drivable road when raining is a result of the local water professionals. These water heroes keep modern life moving with our most essential services. And looking to the fu­ture, we need more of them.
 
The Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP) developed a recruitment program called H2Opportunity to attract talent to a career in the water industry. With a generation of Baby Boom­ers on the verge of retirement and other industries competing for the brightest of the younger genera­tion, GAWP set out to formulate the strengths that a career in the water industry can offer. The water industry provides such a wide range of careers, re­quiring a variety of educational levels and skill sets. With so many facets to the industry, job seekers with varied backgrounds and areas of interest are bound to find a fulfilling job to meet their profes­sional goals. From a system operator who enjoys working with their hands to an environmental edu­cator who loves to teach, or a customer service rep who loves helping people or a civil engineer who wants to design and problem solve, there are fantas­tic careers that run the gamut. In fact, the full name to the program is, “H2Opportunity: Career Paths for Water Protection from GED to PhD.”
 
The objective of the H2Opportunity program is to provide resources for GAWP members to use in their recruitment and community outreach that highlight career opportunities in the water industry. These resources are developed for all age groups, elementary school through college and they are perfect for municipalities to incorporate into stu­dent outreach, career day events or job fairs.
 
The key message for H2Opportunity and a career in the water industry is:
Purpose: Make a difference in your world
Protect: Your environment and community
Pathway: To your future
 
Some of the program highlights include the H2Opportunity Scholarship, awarded to a student each year seeking a career in the industry. The H2Opportunity website, www.h2opportunity.net, is a one-stop shop for water related jobs, intern­ships, scholarships and school programs. It also in­cludes resources like brochures and lesson plans for educators and municipalities to take to classrooms. Plus, there is a fantastic Twitter feed #H2Opportu­nityga, so be sure to follow us.
 
The hope is to grow the H2Opportunity program and extend the message that the water industry is a robust field to build a career. Water professionals have a sense of purpose in their job, knowing that it protects the public health and safety of the com­munity as well as safeguarding the environment. Working in an industry that provides opportunity, purpose and stability is a pretty great place to be. And personally, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
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