Used with permission from Waukee Living Magazine (April '19 issue)
As a recent graduate of Carroll Kuemper High School, Cole Daniel pondered his next move. He says college was "never in the cards" and classroom experiences seemed overwhelming. After a few different jobs, he worked at a home improvement store.
While at Home Depot, his sister suggested a Water Environmental Technology program at Des Moines Area Community College. He attended the two-year program and received an associate's degree and completed certifications in water distribution and wastewater collection. He felt the program was a good fit, with a variety of outdoor work and with room for advancement.
"I'd heard that jobs for wastewater operations are coming up because a majority of the people are retiring," he says.
Daniel is currently employed by the Waukee Public Works in the wastewater department. His job includes anything water-related, including flushing hydrants, examining sewer water and distributions and more.
He says many people don't understand what his job entails.
"We tend to work in the shadows. Wastewater is really interesting. People don't think about water until they don't have it or there's a big rain," Daniel says. "It's nice knowing I have an effect on everybody in the city. It's fulfilling in that manner."
He says the public's perception about the city work is the most challenging aspect about his job.
"Sometimes there's not enough water pressure or a person's bill is too high. We don't have any control over that," he says. "We'd like to - but we can't please everyone."
Daniel's job requires ongoing training and maintaining his licensing. He'd like to obtain a Grade 4 license - the highest possible designation in his field.
Daniel says the DMACC program set him up successfully to go out in the field immediately after the program, a good fit for his career objectives.
"If you choose the right trade, you'll find a job," he says. "Lots of friends finish college and don't have a job. The debt seems so high for a four-year college," he notes.
Daniel prides himself on finding a career and says it's more than just "working a job."
"We take a lot of pride in keeping things running. Just like anyone else, we want to do a good job," he says. "I want to be the best at what I'm doing."