Women in Water Q&A | Heidi Jeninga

March 25, 2022

To honor Women's History Month, women in the water industry are sharing their career paths, insights and more. 


Name & Title: Heidi Jeninga; Civil Engineer II, raSmith

SWS: Tell us about your career journey. How did you end up where you are today?

HJ: When I was 15, I witnessed a very rugged example of water distribution while visiting another country. After that trip I became extremely interested in water distribution and clean water, and later, ended up going to undergrad for civil engineering. Over the years, my love for clean water morphed into various focuses, which ultimately led me to storm water today.

SWS: Why water?

HJ: Everyone deserves access to clean water. If I am able to help keep our waterways cleaner through best management practices through design and implementation, then I consider myself lucky to be a small part of the solution.

SWS: What do you think are the most pressing issues the industry is facing?

HJ: I think some of the biggest issues the industry is facing is how to adjust design standards to take into consideration climate change and the change in storms. I think the industry also lacks diversity, and we need all the diversity we can get to find solutions that benefit all different communities.

RELATED: Women in Water Q&A | Vallari Talapatra

SWS: What are your goals for both your career and in the industry?

HJ:  I think my career goals center around always learning and adapting. I want to adapt with the ever-changing industry by molding the way I design and implement to each individual situation. I want to keep adding tools to my toolbelt so I can serve communities around me in the best way possible. From a non-technical standpoint, I hope to be a part of diversifying the industry. I would love to see more director and management positions be filled by minorities as I advance in my career. I would love to see more people throughout the industry get more involved in outreach within all levels of education to expose children of all backgrounds to civil engineering.

SWS: What does it mean to you to be a woman in this industry?

HJ: To me, being a woman in the industry means different things on different days. Being a woman in this industry means perseverance. It means being a part of a niche community. It means progress. But it also means a little girl who fell in love with water gets to do what she loves every day, and that is something worth celebrating.

SWS: What media (books, TV shows, movies, games, podcasts, etc.) has had the greatest impact on you in the past year?

HJ: I have been listening to the Financial Feminist podcast and have been really inspired on ways to prep for my future while also honoring my successes.

SWS:  What advice can you give those that are new to the industry?

HJ: Seek out a mentor. This mentorship does not have to be a formal one but find a mentor who will not only teach you the technical side of your job but who will also mentor you on other aspects of the job. Find a mentor who will listen and advocate for you.