The Route to Success

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With a strong work ethic and confident mindset, Tammi Czewski believes anything is possible. Starting in third grade, Czewski learned the importance of self-determination and the role it plays in success thanks to her first job — a paper route delivering newspapers to a single street once a week. “The papers would just get dropped off at our doorstep, and I had to organize my time and use self-motivation to go out and deliver them,” she said. “That’s a skill that I still use today since I don’t work in a typical office setting.” Czewski has worked as a senior traffic engineer at Traffic Analysis & Design, Inc. (TADI) for the past 10 years. TADI is a national traffic engineering firm that produces innovative aspects of transportation development projects. Since the company works remotely, Czewski is actually the only person who is stationed in Michigan, while other employees are spread from Chicago to Milwaukee. The company’s employees connect a few times a year to stay familiar with each other but Czewski said it can be hard without daily support from coworkers. “It’s not like I can just peek over a cubicle to get advice or ask someone a question,” she said. “I keep busy, but it’s just a different format.” With aerial photography and increased technology, project development has improved and become more interactive, Czewski said. For example, some of the available tools make it possible for her company to animate existing traffic conditions. “It’s easier to convey to the public what we are hoping of doing if we can demonstrate it through this visual simulation,” she said. While she may design clear routes, her own career route wasn’t as clear. Czewski had always had an interest in math, but when she was younger she wanted to pursue a career in interior design. “Sometimes I think I just wanted to do something more creative, but I was good at math so that kind of guided me toward that path,” she said. Although she started with computer engineering courses, when a friend went into civil and environmental engineering during their junior year, Czewski followed. After graduating she had an internship with a soil company where she tested concrete and asphalt. “It was pretty dirty,” she laughed. “I decided I didn’t want to take that route any longer, so I went back and got my master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering with a specialization in transportation.” To describe her current career, Czewski said she has to be analytical, detail oriented, use logic and have a desire for accuracy. Czewski said as much as she receives support and has a passion for her career, it isn’t always a perfect fairytale. Sometimes it can be disappointing, just like any other job. “You can invest so much time on a project and it will get abandoned,” she said. “A lot of time a project falls short due to budget and then you just spent all this time getting excited and finding all the information for it — that is upsetting.” Looking 20 years into the future to predict traffic light timing and analyzing left turn phases isn’t something that just anyone can accomplish. When her career was first starting out, she often felt intimidated by the overwhelmingly male-dominated field. “I still go to meetings and can count on my hands how many women are in the room,” she said. They key to becoming more comfortable in a typically non-female field of work is being confident in yourself and what you know, Czewski said. There are many factors that influence Czewski’s drive to do her best at work and one of them is her husband, who is also a civil engineer. “It’s really nice that he gets it,” she explained. “He supports me and knows what I’m doing.” Growing up, her mother was a business owner and single mom. Czewski said she remembers her always trying to improve herself, and even now at 61 her mother is in the process of getting her master’s degree. “I’ve always been an ambitious person, trying to do more and do better,” she said. “My mom instilled some of that in me.” Katelyn Sweet is a senior at Central Michigan University studying Integrative Public Relations and Journalism.
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Tags: Careers for Consideration, engineer, women

Katelyn Sweet

Katelyn Sweet is a senior at Central Michigan University studying Integrative Public Relations and Journalism.