Interview with My Dad | Teen Ink

Interview with My Dad

April 21, 2010
By NancyP PLATINUM, Aurora, Illinois
NancyP PLATINUM, Aurora, Illinois
26 articles 0 photos 1 comment

My dad is currently a bicycle advocate. A few years ago, he was working as an engineer at Fermilab, when he decided to quit. At this point in his life he decided to work with something he liked to do, not caring about the salary. Now nine years later he is working with the League of Illinois Bicyclists, and he loves what he’s doing.

Why did you choose your job?
I feel strongly that bicycling – more people biking and safer bicycling conditions – can make the world a little better place. This includes a better environment, healthier people, safety for those relying on bikes for transportation, and more.

Why did you decide to switch jobs?
As the years went by in my previous career, I increasingly felt a “calling” to do something more fulfilling in my professional life – and that calling was to lead an organization dedicated to improving bicycling. My wife recognized this and was incredibly supportive, encouraging me to make the switch.

How did you come about getting your job?
I had become heavily involved in bicycle advocacy for seven years prior to making the switch, including three years with the organization that I eventually started working for. Because of that volunteering, I had proven myself enough that the organization’s board wanted to hire me.

What do you do for your job?
Anything and everything to improve bicycling conditions in Illinois. This includes teaching local officials and college students; working with schools, the media, and police; writing laws and lobbying; developing plans for towns to become bike-friendly; and much more.
What skills do you need to be successful?
Because of the wide range of our organization’s activities, a wide range of skills are needed, such as: writing, public speaking, teaching, business and managing, grant writing, accounting, mapping, and technical skills (engineering, planning, and safety) specific to bicycling issues.

What did you not like about your other job?
It was a research and development job that many people would find very interesting, but unfortunately, I did not. That lack of motivation made it tough to overcome the very difficult technical aspects of the job.

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