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76: Water Nerd’s Guide to Engaging Young Professionals

Chris Caro is a project engineer in the AECOM Baltimore office, with 6 years of experience in the sewer project management field. He is currently a member of AECOM’s DC Metro+ DCS team. Chris’ responsibilities include planning, designing, construction, and commissioning water and wastewater systems. Mr. Caro previously worked as a Project Manager at WSSC for four years. While at WSSC he managed over 20 consent decree projects and was responsible for budget tracking, scheduling, and progress tracking for the overall consent decree program. Additionally, Mr. Caro has been the CSAWWA Young Professionals committee chair for three years.

Top Takeaways:

  1. You can have a significant impact on someone’s life if you can connect them to the water industry. Be that advocate for our industry.
  2. If you want to attract the younger generations, don’t try to sell them on the job description—convey the importance of the work. You can reach them by using the real reasons you get up and go to work in the morning. 
  3. Young professionals want connection. They are also wary of social media, so outreach to them through different methods such as texting. 

Show Notes:

[4:20] Did you choose water or did water choose you?

  • Water chose me. The world worked its wonders to bring me to this industry.
  • Chris’s coming to America story.

[7:50] How did your professor send you down this different path?

  • Computer programming was not as easy as it might have sounded: The PB&J Story.
  • That’s when water came in and a light bulb in my mind came on.
  • Became involved in volunteering with Blue Water.
  • The playbook for creating the next generation professionals.

[16:08] What advice do you have in attracting the next generation to the water industry?

  • Showcase the people. You won’t find a better group of people than the people in the water industry.
  • Talk about the fun! You get exposure to every facet of engineering with water.
  • Ability to work out in the field.
  • Talk about more than just design work we do. We get to do work that matters.

[22:57] What is something that will keep people from leaving?

  • Lead with kindness.
  • It’s who you work for and with that will keep you in your job.
  • Investing in your people – networking, education.
  • Being a good leader takes experience and explaining how to tackle challenges.
  • People don’t want to feel like they are working for or in a machine.

[30:57] And now, a funny story about Excel.

[38:37] How do we get the YP’s to show up and be involved in professional associations and what social media channels are they using?

  • Facebook = Moms and Grandmas
  • YPs are over social media for the most part.  They are using LinkedIn and WhatsApp.
  • Chris is new to Twitter – go find him!

[45:38] The Lighting Round

  • Game of Thrones
  • Organization and set up reminders.
  • Try to connect with as many young people as you can and nudge them into our industry.


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