Young Professional 2018: Jaclyn Phillips

Jaclyn Phillips, Civil engineer II at the City of West Richland

Jaclyn Phillips

(Photo courtesy Rich Breshears of Breshears Photography)

Age: 31

Education: Bachelor’s in civil engineering from Washington State University Pullman

Hometown: West Richland

Do you have family? Pets? Fiancé and two kids (Almost 2 years old and 3 months old)

Briefly describe your company: The city of West Richland is a local municipality within the Tri-Cities. West Richland is home to about 15,000 people and considered a bedroom community. The public works department works on infrastructure, streets, commercial and capital projects that keep the city functioning the way it should.

How long have you worked there? Three years full time. (Interned for three summers back in college.)

What word best describes you? Passionate

Your biggest flaw? Not asking for help, too independent and just doing things myself

Biggest pet peeve? When people can’t pick up after themselves, not caring for community

Dream vacation? Europe trip with my family

Favorite book? “Unbroken”

Favorite movie? “Remember the Titans”

Favorite sports team? Seattle Seahawks

Favorite website? News or Facebook

Favorite Tri-City restaurant? Red Lobster

Favorite thing to do in the Tri-Cities?  Something outside with my kids, usually running along the river or playing in the park

What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? While living in Hawaii, I was a USA amateur boxer

Briefly describe your job: Being a small city, the entire public works staff have their hands in various roles throughout the city. With my heavy infrastructure experience, I came in working on our capital projects both in the office and a lot of field work. I also get the opportunity to review plans as they come in, assist residents with their needs and work on designing projects in house.

In summer 2006, while attending college, I applied to work as a summer intern with the city of West Richland. I also worked there for the next two summers (2007 and 2008) while attending Washington State University, before joining Kiewit Corp. and entering the construction world. I had a great group of co-workers/bosses and kept in touch with them throughout the years. Fast forward to summer 2015, I brought my fiancé over from our home in Hawaii to see the area and meet my extended family. While in town for the week, I met with my two previous bosses, where after some discussion, learned about their job opening for their civil engineer II. I talked it over some with family, and we decided to take the leap. I was offered the job and moved back to the Tri-Cities to join as a full-time employee. At times it felt like I only took an extended leave, since most of my co-workers remained the same.

Mentors: I think every person I meet has something to offer that can better myself, and I have looked up to a lot of people both personally and professionally. I have learned from various people in my life, but my biggest mentor would probably be Eric Richman while working at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. I got a job working there part time while attending college and was able set up an offsite work agreement for when I was going to school in Pullman before getting a full-time job after college. He taught me a lot professionally, and he’s one of the most humble people I know. While working with Eric, I worked on a side of engineering I have never done, and to this day, look at the mechanical/lighting side of a project differently than a typical civil engineer would. This insight has helped me in my more recent job positions, but the biggest impact he left on me was outside the technical side of the work. The ability to look at things differently, think outside the box, grow my strong work ethic and learning to work well with others, even in conflict are things I can take with me no matter what I am doing.

Toughest career decision: One of the toughest career decisions I have made was giving up my position as a superintendent on a heavy civil project to move back to the Tri-Cities and work locally. I was progressing within the company and doing what I loved, but decided to come back to my roots to start my family. I was given a great opportunity to move back, but it was not an easy decision.

What do you like most/least about your job? I like being a part of the new construction and bringing new amenities and infrastructure to the community. My heart has always been on the job site, and I love when I get a chance to get out there and be a part of the construction process. One of the toughest parts of working for the city is when our community members have needs/wants that we can’t accommodate. We have policies and guidelines we must follow as a municipality and we must find a way to convey that to the public, while still trying to do our best to help them out.

First job: My first real job was at Dairy Queen in Richland when I was 15. I learned so much from that job as far as responsibility and hard work but I think the most important thing I learned was how to work with the public. I think a customer service position teaches valuable lessons on how to work with difficult people, defusing a situation and managing people. I was given the opportunity to run the store, open and close at 16 years old.

Achieving work-life balance: I spend all my time away from work with my family. We recently bought a travel trailer to be able to give my kids experience of traveling and camping as they are growing up. I also love being physically active and take any chance possibly to involve my family in that. I now have every other Friday off, which allows me more time to spend with my kids.

Community involvement: I spent two weeks in Nicaragua building a bridge for a local community who otherwise had no access to most amenities we take for granted, such as healthcare and education. I spent time working with eight coworkers to design and come up with a method in building this bridge with very limited tools/supplies then traveled down to the site to help the community build it.

I was also an elected member of Engineers Without Borders. Through that organization, I traveled to Chile to work on a lake remediation project, as well as several local projects such as building wheel chair ramps for those in need. I have also lead several teams though the years, participating and raising money for a variety of events, such as Relay for Life, March Against Breast Cancer and Race for Ribbons.

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