Empowered Employee Series


Amy DeBruin's Customized Career Path & More


Describe what it has meant to have a flexible, autonomous, and customizable career path at Isthmus.

When I had my first baby, I couldn’t imagine going back to work even though I had planned to after 12 weeks.  Once my kids were toddlers and I found childcare I was comfortable with, I tried to work part time at another consulting firm on two separate occasions but that didn’t work out well.  Then I was introduced to Katie. For years I worked 10 to 15 hours a week at Isthmus, as needed, and had summers off.  Gradually, I was able to increase my hours as my kids grew older, I was able to work within the school hours and still had summers off.  

This part time/as needed situation also worked well when Isthmus was small.  If there wasn’t a project that could use me part time, then I didn’t work.  I am so thankful for that arrangement!  I wouldn’t trade the years I was able to spend with my kids for anything!

Now that my boys are older, I have the flexibility to work as many hours as needed and I have the flexibility to step in and help others when needed. I still have not committed to a 40-hour week - I really enjoy the balanced life that working shorter days or weeks can bring.

What are your credentials/past experience, for working in your position?


For some reason, I have not had a traditional roadway design career as a civil engineer. I have had opportunities to work on a few unique jobs that have brought interesting perspectives. I was an inspector for the laying of the 72” pipes for a water intake system which involved me traveling by barge to a cargo boat on Lake Michigan. I also spent a year working in a trailer keeping logs for a water treatment plant ozonation facility design-build project.

I was an inspector for the paving quality at the Milwaukee Mile race track. I got to work as a sub for CH2MHill and work with XPSWMM and rollerblade home from work every day along Lake Michigan.  I designed a sanitary sewer system for Volk Field combat readiness training center.

For a couple years I worked on the Humphrey Terminal project where I designed the roadways and coordinated with the architects and construction manager. There was also coordination with the LRT coming from the Lindbergh Terminal.  I was part of a project that helped the AARF station locate the exact location of the new building site so that the vehicles could make the turning movements. I had the opportunity to work directly with many airport personnel on both of these projects.

Although a lot of my experience prior to Isthmus didn’t directly relate to traditional highway/MnDOT roadway design, Isthmus recognized the valued perspective this “non-traditional” roadway design track provided my career.

What are the values that drive you?

It is important to me to be an honest, good, hard working person.  I think it is important to show respect to our elders and I believe a good work ethic is extremely valuable. 

Tell us More About Amy

What’s your background? Give us some tidbits!

I grew up in Wisconsin and Maryland. I spent summers in high school with my dad in Wisconsin and the school year with my mom in Maryland.  In Maryland, I lived in a first ring suburb to Washington DC so going to the Smithsonian, seeing the White House and the cherry blossoms were a common occurrence.

In college, my absolute favorite class was band.  I played the oboe from 6th grade through college.  I planned my schedule around band class.  In high school my life revolved around band, softball, and field hockey.

When I was a kid, I would’ve said that lasagna was my favorite food.  Then as I grew older, I probably would have  said chocolate and steak (but not together). For some who know me that might be surprising to hear as I’ve been eating a vegan diet for 7 years. 

I always felt really lucky that I had such a close relationship with my grandma. She was around a lot when I was growing up and I felt very comfortable with her.  In college, sometimes I would go watch movies and have pizza with her on Saturday nights, she lived only a few blocks away.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

I am happiest moving out in nature.  I love hiking and back packing and camping.  I like doing craft/arty type things too, although my interests change on that. I did pottery for a few years at a local community center and really loved creating things.

What are your top three favorite podcasts/books?

I absolutely LOVE listening to The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins.  Is it bad that I don’t read or listen to anything learning based right now? I do like Radiolab podcast.

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