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EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT

Employee Spotlight

 

 

ERICA JERNIGAN, PE

What inspired you to choose your career path?
I was attending Jacksonville State University (JSU) about 20 minutes from my parent’s house with plans of becoming a high school math teacher at my alma mater, OHS, when my parents decided to get a divorce. I wanted to run away from the whole thing, so I spoke with the counselors at JSU about career options, and they recommended taking one of those career assessment tests to help provide some direction. Of course the thing I tested highest for was secondary education which was out of the question as I needed to do something that would require me to move. The next thing was engineering.

To be completely honest, the first thing that came to my mind was a man on a train. So I asked what exactly does an engineer do, and the counselor responded with a general definition about building things and helping people. SIGN ME UP! I applied to Auburn University’s Civil Engineering program and I haven’t looked back since.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Learning from the people I work around. Some of our inspectors and other CEI staff have been doing their jobs for as long as I’ve been alive, and it is great to talk with them and learn from their experiences. I also love that I can talk to the engineers or surveyors that work on the other side of the coin by simply walking to the office next to mine. I also have the pleasure of working for and with some great educators/leaders internally here at DRMP and with the Florida Department of Transportation.

What are you most passionate about?
Helping people.

What is your greatest challenge?
Communicating calmly and clearly is a challenge for me. I talk fast; almost as fast as I type. Everything I say or write comes out like a tornado. I have realized that it can be overwhelming for others, and it makes me look stressed even when I’m not. I have been working very hard to slow down, but when I get excited or nervous it becomes very difficult for me to control.

Name an important “lessons learned” moment you have experienced.
As mentioned above, I’m passionate about helping people. When I worked for a contractor here in Pensacola, some of my co-workers would come and ask me for help on a million different little things. Almost every time anyone asked me for help, I would stop whatever I had going on and do what they needed. It caused me to work a lot of extra hours, and I was always stressed out. Some of the people would help me in return, but I began to notice some of the people asking were just doing it to take advantage of my being nice. I still love to help people, but I try to teach them how to do something rather than just doing it for them. I have to remind myself, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

 
 
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