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I didn’t just visit the Hoover Dam, I was paid to dangle over it…

That’s a job? Find out how one employee capitalized on his love of the outdoors for his #MyStantecStory. What’s your passion?

By: Ryan Switzer, Denver, CO

In-box inspiration
October 2013, I was three months into an engineering technician position at general civil engineering firm Penfield & Smith (now Stantec) in Santa Maria, California. I was doing my usual AutoCAD drafting on my computer when my eyes were drawn to the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) Civil Engineering Magazine in my in-box. The glossy cover featured a guy hanging off a bridge, hundreds of feet above the Hoover Dam. “Whoa, you can do that with a civil engineering degree?” I thought.

The article described Stantec’s Bridge Inspection Program’s work on the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial (Hoover Dam Bypass) Bridge. After I read the article, I realized that I wanted to be that guy on the bridge―I could just imagine the rush of adrenaline that would come with dangling high above the earth.

Truth is, my goal had never been to sit inside all day in front of a computer. I wanted to incorporate my outside interests—like my love of the outdoors—into my work. But how could I make it happen?

Colorado connection
Fast forward to October 2014. Stantec announced that it was acquiring Penfield & Smith. At first, I couldn’t quite remember where I’d heard the name Stantec before, but when I got on Stantec.com and found the Hoover Dam Bypass photo, it clicked: the bridge inspection program.

The word “opportunity” was part of every integration conversation—so was the suggestion to “reach out” to others within the Company. So I started to do some research. In December, once Stantec’s systems were accessible through the secure portal, I looked up Ryan Nataluk, the author of the ASCE article and manager of Stantec’s Denver, Colorado-based Bridge Inspection Program.

After several conversations, Ryan invited me to visit the Denver office and “try out” bridge inspecting for a week in May 2015. Far from the exhilaration and intrigue of hanging from the Hoover Dam Bypass, I was instead put to work crawling around culverts for hours at a time. But after meeting the team and learning more about their work, I knew that being a part of Stantec’s Bridge Inspection Program was an opportunity I absolutely wanted to pursue.

That’s why, nearly two years after first reading about Stantec, I traded the sand, sea, and vineyards of California’s coast for the snow, rivers, and microbreweries of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

Nevada nirvana
I began my new job in September 2015 and am having the time of my life. For several weeks each month, I’m in Nevada, providing inspection under contract with the state’s Department of Transportation. Traveling allows me to explore amazing outdoor playgrounds like Tahoe and different cities, including Reno and Las Vegas, while also giving me a chance to visit my family back in California. I love the spontaneity and changing schedule my new job provides—it’s pretty awesome to get to “play in traffic every day” (safely, of course).

I believe that Stantec offers an abundance of new teams and opportunities. My advice to those seeking a change?  Reach out! There are so many people in this Company who are eager to provide advice or connect you with others and get you wherever it is you want to go—whether it’s the underside of a bridge, or the other side of the world.

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