#FemaleFriday

Jeanien Wilson

Jeanien Wilson is an Engineering Specialist - Plan Reviewer in the City of Philadelphia's Department of Streets. She has 13 years of engineering experience including the 4 years of engineering experience at the Department of Streets. Jeanien WIlson has a BS in Civil Engineering from Drexel University. She is currently a ASCE Philadelphia Section Board Member, and currently resides in Philadelphia with her husband.

Who is/are your role model(s)?

My first co-op/internship was with the City of Philadelphia's Streets Department, and I was lucky enough to have two wonderful professional role models who happened to both be lady Engineers. Elizabeth Baldwin taught me the importance of being the hardest worker in the room even though you think no one is paying attention. That work ethic was instilled in me as an 18-year-old, and it has opened doors for me that otherwise would be bolted shut. Michelle Brisbon taught me the importance of "soft skills" and treating everyone with respect. Always being respectful to everyone, despite the way they may treat you. "You never know who you are going to need in the future or who will end up being your superior." The gift of wisdom that these women gave to me is what I try to instill in the interns and young engineers that I encounter.

How do you balance work, family, and professional society leadership?

I believe that there is a common misconception about balancing multiple aspects of life. So my answer is that you don't balance these items, you prioritize them. I come from a large family, so family always comes first. Ultimately, you have to do what works for you. You make a schedule and stick to it. Proper work/life balance is important, but the first step is good prioritization. If your priorities are out of whack, then none of the other stuff matters.

How/when did you realize you wanted to be a civil engineer? Why did you first study engineering?

Figuring out that I wanted to be a civil engineer was a process of elimination. I wanted to be an architect in high school. Then I took an Architectural Art class and realized it wasn't for me. Honestly, I didn't think I was smart enough to do mechanical engineering, fell asleep in chemistry, and flunked the electrical courses. The only classes I enjoyed and excelled at were Civil Engineering classes, so that's where I ended up. The Civil classes at Drexel worked with the schedule at my retail job at the time, so I could pay for school, get a decent education and keep the gas from getting shut off at the apartment I was living in. I made civil engineering work for me. Ultimately, no matter what I decided to do in life as a career, I want to make a difference in Philadelphia, and maybe the world.