Meet The Team of Adopt A Highway- Melisa Hesson, Operations

Fun / Personal Questions:

1.       What food or drink could you not live without?               

Milk. All dairy really…I’m a Midwesterner!

2.       What is your favorite type of exercise or your favorite activity?

Softball/Baseball and running. I did a Disneyland 10K race and now I’m addicted!

3.       When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

The tooth fairy. My mom said “lucky you, you probably will be!” She was right ;)  In high school/college I wanted to be a linguist for the CIA. I took Spanish, German, Japanese and linguistics throughout high school and college.

4.       What does your ideal weekend look like?

Trying to get my 4 year old to “sleep in,” heading to the pool or park, meeting friends/family at Disneyland.  Followed by a stiff drink because I hate Disneyland.

5.       What is your favorite meal? Breakfast, lunch or dinner?

Probably dinner. It’s the only one I cook myself consistently. I love cooking and experimenting!

6.       If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I can’t pick just one! I LOVE California, it will always be “home base,” but I’ve thought about living abroad in Denmark. Also fell in love with Vancouver B.C. and almost moved there ;)

7.       What is your favorite sports team?

blank stare:: I don’t follow sports much, but I always cheer for the Ducks and the Detroit Red Wings.

8.       What is your favorite type of Social Media / News Outlet / Magazine / Etc.?

Social Media: I’m a Facebook queen.  News Outlet: I like BBC, VICE, and (comically) John Oliver.

9.       Aside from necessities, what could you not live a day without?

My son saying “You’re my best bud.”

10.   Can you speak more than one language?

If yes, what other language do you speak? I used to speak Spanish and German conversationally, but not fluently.  Now, none.

Professional / Work Questions:

11.   How long have you worked for AHMC?

Only about 3 months

12.   What is your field of work and what is your favorite thing about your job?

Ops Assistant.  I aggregate and enter a lot of data and I LOVE that part of my job!  I like all kinds of different data representation – it paints a very clear picture of what we accomplish on both a day-to-day and long-term scale, so I like seeing it every day.

13.   Were you familiar with the Adopt A Highway program before you started working here?

Yes, when I was a kid, my dad’s company adopted sections of highway in Michigan through the DOT and we would go out and help clean it up.  I was excited to work somewhere associated with that program!

14.   What was your very first job? 

Not counting working for my parents, I was a ceramic painter at a neighborhood “paint your own pottery” studio. I painted the samples and was in charge of the kids’ birthday parties and summer camps.

15.   What did you study in college and how has it helped you professionally?

I bounced all over my first 2 years (Linguistics, political science, marketing) and finally ended up with a degree in English (mostly research writing).

16.   What is the biggest lesson you have learned professionally?
To accept positions that I can take pride in – even if it means starting at the bottom again.  Take a job that I am happy to do well in and grow, not just whatever comes along; that tends to lead to burn out and high turnover. I learned to be more discerning in where I work and it’s fostered MUCH better environments, relationships, and better work output on my behalf.

17.   What advice would you give someone who just graduated college and is looking for a career in your field of work?

I guess it depends on what field of work they consider this job…administrative, data-based, environmental?  I guess whatever it is, I would give the advice to look for work where you can bring something to the table AND where you continue to learn. 

18.   How important is work life balance and how do you keep yourself grounded on a day off?

Work-life balance is INCREDIBLY important. For me, I’m lucky that I’m part-time, so I can pick my son up from school and spend the afternoon with him while he’s still little. But I understand work-life balance isn’t just for people with families – you have to find time for yourself, and the important people (or animals!) that are important in your life, whomever that may be. 

On a day off, honestly, I’m probably NOT that grounded – I’m usually going crazy with errands, housework and the mundane “stuff.”  Work days are usually the ones where I find “balance.”

19.   What is the number one thing that motivates you?

 Ummm…probably recognition of achievement.  I have validation issues…

20.   Where do you see Adopt A Highway in 10 years?

After being here only 3 months and seeing the new markets opening and the growth that’s been happening, I see Adopt A Highway being open in every state. I see the public being more engaged with our mission in general, and partnerships with sponsors being more valuable in particular.