Melissa Philpot never imagined her days would consist of reviewing dozens of contracts and bids, inventorying and organizing a dusty warehouse or working out in the country off Interstate 5 in what seems like a small city of compressors, turbines, water pumps and electrical lines.
Before she started working at the Lodi Energy Center, Philpot worked in human resources at a timeshare company for four years. She received complaints all day long. It was negative energy, and she described herself as wanting to pull her hair out. So she answered an unexpected job listing on Craigslist.
The 34-year-old was hired for a temp job with the Northern California Power Agency, and in a matter of months, she found herself managing the bids for the natural gas power plant. Now, she loves her job.
"I've gotten to see it go from dirt to where it is now. It's kind of crazy how fast the plant has gone up," she said.
With perfectly manicured fingers and bouncing curls, Philpot walks into the warehouse, pointing to different rows of parts that she is responsible for keeping track of.
Occasionally, some of the men tease her and ask what she's doing outside her air conditioned office. At first, she had concerns about working in the mostly male environment, but now they are all like family to her, complete with jokes.
"The team works well together. I can be myself here cause I'm silly," Philpot said.
She started as a field office administrator, managing all of the construction bids before there were even workers on-site. In October 2010, her job became permanent, as the procurement and warehouse coordinator.
She will be responsible for making sure the power plant has all of the parts it needs for maintenance in stock, and she will also hire outside companies to come fix the plant when things go wrong.
The hardest part is dealing with vendors who are late or who send the wrong part.
"It can get pretty hectic," Philpot said. "If something breaks, we can't run. And the Lodi Energy Center needs to be available all the time."
In her cubicle are pictures of her husband, Jason, whom she married last September, and their nieces. When she's not at work, Philpot enjoys running and is training for a half-marathon in November after injuring her knee in 2010. She also spends time with her two dogs and cats at their house in Sacramento.
She went to school in the Bay Area and majored in business administration. Even though working at a power plant wasn't part of her plan, she loves the new challenge.
"I love the people and the variety," she said. "Every day is different, especially with construction, because anything can happen."