Are You Passionate About Your Job? 

Sheri At Umd Career Fair

I first learned about the fire protection industry during my college years while bookkeeping at a fire protection contracting firm. While I worked in the office, I observed others design, fabricate, and install sprinkler systems in buildings. I thought their product and service that protect lives and property from fire were valuable. It intrigued me that you never see a system fully operate and control a fire until an emergency.

After graduating with a BA degree in anthropology and no job prospects, I looked again at the fire protection industry. Learning about a design training program, I decided to apply. Initially, their answer was “no,” but I was offered another less interesting job, a position “more suitable for a handicapped person or a woman.”  I decided to interview for the less interesting job and sell myself for the training position. Thankfully, “affirmative action” at the time helped me gain entrance to the program.

What does it mean to have passion in your work? According to Merriam-Webster passion refers to a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement either for something or about doing something.

I enjoy learning, helping others, doing some good in the world, having a variety of tasks to do at work and challenging problems to find solutions for, collaborating with other engineers and designers, architects, and owners to make a code-compliant system as aesthetically pleasing as possible, and even working with contractors during installation.

I always like to “talk sprinklers.” I enjoy looking up code references to properly design a system, discussing design strategies with co-workers, reviewing manufacturers’ literature to find the best product for my application, drawing the systems, and making observations and measurements in the field. I am enthusiastic and excited to figure out how to properly protect a building from fire. I like learning about new technologies and continuously developing my skills. I am committed to doing my best.

Altieri helps to foster passion for our work. The firm’s core values shape our culture. Our “Quality” core value helps drive staff to overcome challenges, persevere, and maintain a high level of commitment. The teams repeatedly show an inventive approach to MEPF systems design. Altieri makes bold visions work! Employees have voted the firm a Top Workplace four years in a row; this is certainly evidence of job satisfaction!

In 1992, John Altieri recruited my late husband, Dave Lussier, to work in the fire protection department. Changing careers from contracting to engineering was a “good fit” for Dave, and he really enjoyed the complicated and interesting projects. Over the years, I have worked at Altieri part-time when the FP workload required an extra hand. I always enjoyed working with Dave (my favorite boss) and with the other engineers from all over the world. Almost three decades later, Dave had to stop working due to his serious illness and wrote to co-workers and many in the FP industry:

I’m grateful for the experience of working at such a premier mechanical engineering company for the last 29 years.  I have enjoyed working with and learning from my colleagues. My career has been about doing something I am passionate about [and] I wish you the same. 

Dave Lussier

As retirement approaches and my role has shifted to mentoring new engineers, working at career fairs, and attending educational programs for young women engineers, I find new passion in my work.

Theodore Roosevelt said, Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. The fire protection industry has provided exciting, meaningful work with a purpose, focus, exploration, learning, and growth that has inspired me to work hard. I have job (and life) satisfaction. I am grateful to feel this way.

Am I passionate about my job? You bet!