SEATTLE — After six years as a design engineer building luxury condos and corporate high-rises, Connie Chow joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District in 2021 to contribute to projects that serve the community. and give it meaning.
“After working around 60 hours a week some weeks, I was like, ‘Why am I doing this job?'” University of Maryland, College Park Graduate says.
Working with USACE is Chow’s first stint in public service. As the District’s Minor Capital Coordinator, she monitors and tracks the execution of projects with budgets of $500,000 and under and helps them meet their year-end goals. She is also involved in the budget development process as co-head of the Hydro business line.
Chow came to her personal crossroads circa 2015, after talking to her friend Zahraa AlKhafaji, a former private sector colleague who had previously joined USACE in Chicago, Ill. AlKhafaji mentioned working on a project that involved renovating old buildings to convert them into hospitals to help patients with COVID-19.
Chow was intrigued.
“It seemed like something I wanted to be a part of, to do some work to help people,” the Maryland native said. “I didn’t really feel like my work was helping people as much as it could have been.”
AlKhafaji’s experiences reinforced Chow’s desire to work in an organization like USACE, whose projects make service to the public and the application of professional skills and expertise not only possible but inevitable.
With just over a year with USACE behind her, Chow’s transition from private industry to public service includes learning “government lingo” and various government-specific processes and procedures, all while adapting to his new role which expands his skills in management, communication and organization. .
Chow’s colleagues Brian Hart, Jaclynn Miller and Susan Weber describe his impact on team morale and effort as impactful and praise his can-do attitude.
Hart, chief operating officer of the technical support arm, praised Chow’s focus on developing relationships with partners, understanding customer needs, and appreciating where those needs fit into the business picture. ‘together.
While Miller, a mechanical engineer in the district’s project support section of his operations division, focused on Chow’s caring attitude toward his colleagues, Weber, a program analyst in the district’s support section management, described Chow’s ability to absorb the idiosyncrasies of budget formulation and execution, as inspiring.
Besides being involved in projects that make her happy, Chow is a member of a local salsa dance team where she enjoys learning new dance steps and routines and how to be a better communicator. When she’s not dancing, she’s outdoors in Greater Seattle where the mountains and trails lend themselves to her hiking and snowshoeing interests.
Chow said she would recommend the Corps to anyone looking for a job that combines passion and purpose.
“If they wanted to find a job that was meaningful to them and an organization that supports their professional and personal goals and values them as a person, I would highly recommend the Corps,” Chow said. “You are never pigeonholed into a specific role…. If you start to see other possibilities or interests, everyone around you is extremely supportive of you trying it out, to see if you like it and to find the perfect match for you.
(Special thanks to Jason Anderson who contributed to this story)
The Army Corps of Engineers is a worldwide organization serving the military and civilian engineering needs of our nation. The District of Seattle is one of five districts in the Northwest Division, and there are nine divisions spanning the United States and overseas. We are involved in protecting our waterways, generating clean hydroelectric power, responding to floods and disasters, and helping our local salmon population. Our workforce includes a wide variety of professional, technical, skilled and administrative support positions in engineering, project management, science, trades and crafts. Specific engineering disciplines include civil, mechanical, electrical, and hydraulics. Scientist positions include geologists, hydrologists, biologists, environmental resource specialists, and archaeologists.