You may not know that YPT Baltimore began as an independent group of ambitious professional transportationists (and fake word enthusiasts), the Professional Association of Young Transportationists in Maryland. The founders knew there were other like-minded professionals out there who’d enjoy grabbing a drink, networking with peers, and hearing from established and emerging leaders in the transportation industry. To create a new group, they used their free time, put in their own money, and made up a word.
My two or so years with YPT Baltimore began just as PAYT Maryland was transitioning into a local chapter of YPT International. I was able to work with some of the original PAYT Maryland founders whose support and guidance still impacts me today. This blog post serves both to honor the group that laid the groundwork for this chapter to exist, and hopefully to show our members the value of YPT Baltimore in its third year.
Our founding members responded to a brief survey asking them about their job when organizing PAYT, where they work now, and what advice they have for young professionals and students in the transportation industry. Below is a summary of their replies.
John was an entry level Transportation Planner when he began organizing PAYT Maryland. He was recently promoted to the position of Maryland and Delaware Planning Manager for WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff. John oversaw the transition from PAYT to YPT with most of the original board. His favorite experience while leading PAYT and YPT Baltimore was meeting amazing leaders and colleagues in the transportation industry.
His advice: “To echo our first speaker- Beverley Swaim-Staley- ‘Volunteer for Everything!'”
Fun Fact: John loves wearing funny socks!
Kimiya was a Transportation Planner at STV, Inc. when she began organizing PAYT Maryland. Nearly five years later, she now works as a Lead Planner for WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff. Kimiya played a huge role in organizing quarterly events and ensuring everything was set for a successful event. Her favorite PAYT Maryland event was the Quarterly Meetup featuring Keisha Pollack who presented on her work conducting Health Impact Assessments.
Her advice: “If a job or career opportunity scares you, dive in anyways!”
Fun fact: She has tri-citizenship in the U.S.A, Australia, and Iran.
Jason was a Transportation Planner at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council when he began organizing PAYT Maryland. Shortly after the transition from PAYT to YPT, he returned to Chicago and is now a Transit Service Planner for the Chicago Transit Authority. Jason tackled the job of communications and marketing for PAYT events and said his favorite had had to be working to make the Rising Stars in Transportation event a success, stating “It was great to help connect Baltimore’s transportation industry together in a way that had not existed.” The Rising Stars event was a collaboration between PAYT and local chapters of ASCE, ASHE, APA, and other supporters including CATT Lab.
His advice: “Transportation is a big place with many niches. Spend time early exploring what you like and don’t like. Then work on becoming an expert in areas that you enjoy. Tech is remaking and reshaping transportation, stay current on these trends and identify those that have staying power. Also, I am a shy person but making personal connections is crucial career advancement. If you’re shy, push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Attend industry functions as much as possible and embrace the awkwardness!”
Fun Fact: Jason has Jurassic Park memorized verbatim.
Dustin was a Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator at the Maryland State Highway Administration during his time with PAYT. He now works as an Accessibility Engineer at Tindale Oliver. Dustin managed finances for PAYT and helped with the incoming treasurer (that would be me!) transition to YPT Baltimore. His favorite experience with PAYT Maryland was socializing with other motivated young professionals in the transportation industry over good beer.
His advice: “Go to as many professional events as you can, and develop relationships with as many people as you can while there. Just showing your face at multiple events and chatting with people on several occasions is all it takes. I found the job I have now through doing this at PAYT/YPT events. I was hired by a guy that I use to talk to regularly at events for over 2 years. Reward might not happen right away, but at some point an opportunity will present itself.”
Fun fact: Dustin has been on a ton of different boards and committees over the years from serving on his City’s Financial Advisory Committee, being President of his Home Owner’s Association to starting up a charity fund raising group. Most recently he has been working with his city council to formalize a new committee that will focus on developing walkable connections and urban gathering places throughout the City of Bowie.
Deni was a Civil/Transportation Engineer at the Maryland State Highway Administration when she began organizing PAYT Maryland. She now works as a Civil/Transportation Engineer at AECOM. Deni enjoyed working behind the scenes to help put quarterly meetings together. Seeing attendees engaged in discussion and industry leaders taking time to discuss exciting projects was “very rewarding” and “made it all worth while.”
Her advice: “Strive for excellence, even in smaller things that you don’t see yourself building a career upon. This industry is fast paced, and adapts to changes in transportation demands every year. You never know which seemingly insignificant project or initiative can turn into something that will greatly impact your life and the life of all those that will benefit from it.”
Fun fact: She is “LITERALLY traveling all the way around the world this summer!”
There are a handful of the original PAYT Maryland leaders who were unable to be reached, but we are thankful for their leadership and early commitment to connecting professionals in our industry both with peers and with influential leaders. If you’re new to the industry, what advice are you seeking from mentors and experienced colleagues? If you’re a leader in the industry, what advice do you have to give to those who are early in their careers?