Monday, March 29, 2010
Today is March 17th, St. Patty's Day in Whistler. Dolton and I worked it out with both our venue managers so we could both get the day off. It is our first full day off since March 5 when we returned from Seattle. I woke up about 30 minutes ago, around 9:30 local time here in Whistler, which was great. On event days I have been waking up around 530, sometimes 6 if I am lucky. Dolton and I are about to head on the 10 o'clock shuttle into town and go workout at the gym in Creekside we joined. Dale, one of the bus drivers, is making a run all the way into the village, versus just to the bus stop at Function Junction, so we are going to keep our workout short and have him pick us up on way back around 11:10. I need to get some of my laundry done and I know Dolton does as well so we will try to each do a load or two then head into the village to begin celebrating St. Patty's Day. If it seems like I do laundry quite often, its because I have a limited number of clothes to wear because I could only pack so much. I usually run out t-shirts to wear after a week and my work clothes usually need to be washed then as well. Yesterday (Tuesday) was another busy morning at Creekside with the downhill events continuing but calls ended at the helpdesk around one. Our staff was shorthanded because Brad, our supervisor at the base level, was sick with a fairly bad cold. We have been down one guy each day since one of our guys Adam, partially tore his ACL skiing at the end of last week. Luckily the rest of our staff has been doing a great job and picked up their slack. Since things were slower in the afternoon I got the chance to sit down and talk with the Food and Beverage Manager at Creekside, Shawna Hall. She is the VANOC (Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Olympics) representative for Food and Beverage, and she oversees Coca-Cola and the Catering Company Sodexo and makes sure each side is holding up their end of the contract. Benoit Klein in the VANOC representative that we deal with, he is the SCW (Snow Clearing, Cleaning and Waste) Manager and is in charge of the contract with Clean Event and Coastal Mountain Excavation. Shawna is in her mid twenties and is originally from Vancouver. My first question was how she got to be the Food and Beverage Venue Manager. I was curious if she had always wanted to be in event management. She told that she actually started out as a waitress around the age of 15, worked there a few years, got into catering and eventually moved up inside a catering company until she applied and got her current job. Shawna said she had never really planned to go into event management but she saw a chance to move up in the restaurant industry and it brought her to events. She did not go to school past high school and has no degree in event management. Shawna strongly felt that work experience is the number one factor in getting a job you apply for. She felt she got where she is because of all her experience in the food and beverage industry and that a degree would not have been much help to her. When I asked her the best and worst parts of her job, I got similar answers to most of the people I asked. She said she loved most of the people she worked with and the chance to meet new people but her least favorite part was the long hours. Shawna did add that after she puts a lot work into an event its great to see her success when the events goes well. I think everyone can really appreciate something they have done when they have put a lot of time into it. What Shawna said about work experience really made me appreciate this internship and the fact that the University of South Carolina puts so much emphasis on real-work opportunities. Some of the people I have been able to meet in the industry as well as the experience I have gained I would not have been able to learn through a semester at school. Shawna told me a typical day for her during these games starts about 5am and last until about 5pm. She added quickly though that in event management each day is different and there really are no typical days. That's a part she likes about what she does. When I asked her what personality type would be best for such a job she said it is important that a person be able to work well under stress. A lot of times things will not go as easy as they should and the hours can be long. She stressed that getting along with the people you work with is half the battle. I have seen this aspect on an everyday basis from watching people from Clean Event work with other companies and VANOC people around the site. Everyone does not always agree but being able to work something out is very important. I got a lot of practical advice from being able to interview Shawna. Her answers were not something I could read out of a book but were realistic.
Today is the last Monday I will be working in Whistler, Canada. Next Monday I am planning to head to Vancouver to do some site seeing before I fly home from there on the 24th. The weekend went by pretty fast but did not really feel much like the weekend because I had to work. I sometimes have to think for a second what day it is because other than starting times differing, the days are all the same. Lexi and I talked with Kylie over the weekend and she really wanted us to have the chance to do stuff in Whistler in our last week so she said she only needs one of us in the office each day. Yesterday (Sunday) Lexi and I agreed to take off alternating days and both come the 21st, our last day. Since Creekside was expecting snow overnight last night and during the day today Craig asked if I could help out around the Parkaid today in case we got any calls. Today was supposed to be my day off but since they wanted me here because of the snow Kylie let me go home early yesterday. It was nice to go back, take a nap and tidy up our living space. Before I got off yesterday Craig, Clean Event's project manager, explained a strategy he had put in place for the expected snow. If it was going to snow several centimeters each hour throughout the morning as the weatherman forecasted, it was going to be very difficult for our staff to keep all the steps and landings cleared. Craig went and spread shovels around the venue so that there was one close to all the steps and landings. He told me that if anyone called the helpdesk requesting shoveling, to tell them that if it was not an athlete area that it may take us a little while to get there because it is not our highest priority and they may be better off shoveling it themselves. It sounds blunt but what he said makes sense, and makes our job more manageable. As a result of Craig putting these shovels out we actually received no calls about shoveling any steps or landings today. This idea of placing the shovels out around the venue had never occurred to me when I heard how much snow we were expecting. I simply thought this is our job so to speak so I assumed our staff would be having a busy, long day. However this is where Craigs experience and knowledge of managing events comes into play. I feel like this is something that can't be taught in a classroom and has been what I have benefited from a work opportunity. The ability to adapt to situations and finding ways to get things done faster and better are qualities of a good event manager and are acquired skills. Things have slowed down since the snow stopped around lunchtime today. I am planning to have Wednesday and Friday off later this week, Wednesday because it is St. Patrick's Day and Friday so I can go skiing. It is a weird feeling that the end is so near, a week from now I will be in Vancouver and 9 days from today I will be arriving home in Charlotte.
Today (Friday) is the last day at Creekside that is a non-event day with the Paralympics kicking off tomorrow morning at 1130 Am. In comparison to the day before the Olympics began everything seems a lot less hectic and moving at a slower pace. For Clean Event specifically I think Kylie along with everyone is a lot more comfortable in what is expected of them and they now have a better idea of what to expect on event days. Before the Olympics began there was a lot of hype about event days being crazy and full of cleaning, waste and snow removal issues that would never give our staff a chance to take a breathe. In my opinion the Olympics were a busy time but did not live up to the expectation about the level of stress/work. This may have been a strategy used by the management in Clean Event in an attempt to mentally prepare its staff for these days. However now after having worked during the Olympics everyone is just ready for the Paralympics to get going. Arguably the biggest difference in the 0ffice today is that Hughie is not here overseeing everything as he was before the Olympic games and instead Craig is. They have different approaches to prepping the venue managers as well as different demeanors in how they want stuff done. Kylie obviously has more experience under her belt now after the Olympics and feels much less stressed with her brother Craig supervising instead of Hughie. From a personal standpoint I knew my responsibilities before the Olympics pretty well but now I am much more efficient at carrying them out. I have a better idea now of what Kylie wants on a daily basis after having worked with her for over a month. Citrix is Clean Event's software program, which I was slow to learn because we did not have internet at Creekside for the first 3 weeks I was in Whistler. After using it for a month or so I can get things done much faster and am a better asset to the organization of our venue. Despite the fact that a lot of our current staff at Creekside did not work at this venue during the Olympics, we have some of our best workers still onboard that have shown the new guys the way. All the new additions seem to be hard workers and quick learners which has made our overall performance better. The opening ceremony for the Paralympics is taking place tonight followed by eight days of competition. The events for the Paralympics are about an hour longer each day but we are only contracted to arrive 3.5 hours before the event starts instead of five for the Olympics. This is due to less media and broadcast people on-site as well as the expectation for less spectators. Therefore our start times will be slightly later during these games.
One and half weeks to go!! It seems to be going by slow at the moment but when I look back I cannot believe two months have passed of me being in Whistler. These past few days have been slow as I mentioned in the down days between the Olympics and Paralympics. I have begun to see some of the athletes for the Paralympics around the venue that are practicing on the mountain. I have seen people were jackets from Switzerland, Austria, France, Italy and the United States just to name a few. Lexi is back from her days off and is helping me at the helpdesk today. As it has been the past couple days, helpdesk calls have been at a minimum which has given both Lexi and I the chance to get out on the venue and help out where we are needed. This morning I helped to take inventory of all the things we used up during the Olympics. This included hand sanitizer, toilet bowl cleaner, toilet paper, paper towels and a few other things. Later on in the day Kylie and I went over to the sliding center and picked up whatever leftovers of these supplies they may have as they are in the process of cleaning up and emptying everything out. The Sliding Center, where the luge, skeleton and bobsledding events were held was only an Olympic Venue and will not be used for the Paralympics. This means a lot of the temporary infrastructure put in place is being torn down as well as all the companies working on site are in the process of moving out. Kylie and I were able to get all the toilet paper rolls we needed for the Paralympics from the Sliding Center as well as most of the paper towels and a some of the toilet bowl cleaner. After subtracting what we were able to get from the sliding center I sent a list to Hughie for what needed to be ordered/brought in by the weekend for the upcoming games. This process should have been done a few days earlier but we had enough of all our supplies to get through the first few event days and the delivery time for the rest was only one to two days after it was ordered. Kylie and I went to the Sliding Center earlier today with Clean Event's venue manager for that site, Scott Parnell. Out of the seven venues Clean Event was in charge of during the Olympic games, Scott was the only American venue manager. I had briefly met him before but this was the first time I had actually gotten to know him. His job title was Venue Manager for the Whistler Sliding Center and he was in charge of supervising the cleaning, snow removal and waste at this venue. Clean Event is in charge of all the waste, cleaning all areas except the food tents, and removing the snow from all steps, landings and one meter outside of these. Scott said he had a staff of about 16 on event days and they would arrive five hours before the event started and stayed on average three hours after. His main responsibilities were overseeing that people were doing the jobs they were assigned in a timely manner and that his staff was getting along with the other workers and spectators on-site. The high profile areas were his main concern, for example the athlete lounge and the Olympic family lounge needed to be clean at all times. The rest of the site would need a general clean and dump of all waste once each day. As far as his favorite parts of the job go, Scott said he enjoyed event management because of all the experiences hes had at big sporting events across the world and he loves meeting people. His least favorite parts are the time away from his family and the long hours he has to work a lot of the time but added he would rather be spending time out at venues because the work is always different versus spending less hours at a desk all day. He told me he was from Tampa, Florida and traveled some with Clean Event but did most of their events inside the United States. He had been in Whistler about the same amount of time I had, arriving in early January but was due to fly out tomorrow morning. Scott told me he really missed his wife and two daughters and was looking forward to seeing them. The events he told me worked for Clean Event in the United States were the U.S. Open, an arrangement of festivals and mostly Nascar Races. He said he did a good amount of traveling but a lot of it was inside the south eastern United States and he enjoyed it. Since I have been in Whistler I met one other guy who said he worked many of the Nascar races for Cleanevent. His name is Sam and he is from Seattle, the opposite corner of the United States from Florida. Just yesterday he told me would get to head home for a week after the Paralympics and would then be off to Nashville to start work with a series of Nascar races. Although I have made many great contacts inside Clean Event and at my work venue, these two guys seemed to be more helpful because most of their work is closer to home for me than say somewhere in the United Kingdom or in Australia. I have loved the opportunity to be in another country and at such a global event, but I have decided I would rather make this an occasional thing if possible rather than spent my entire year traveling the world when I graduate from school. I do still think I would life to find a job in event management but maybe one closer to home and I like the idea of working at an Arena possibly. I am considering this because different events would take place at Arena but the traveling would be less.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
This is my third day back at work since returning from Seattle. Both Saturday and Sunday were slow days at the Creekside helpdesk because we only got 1 or 2 calls about issues each day. On Saturday Craig Madigan, Kylie's brother, the project manager for Clean Event for the Olympics suggested that Kylie let me off since the office was slow and it was such a nice day. Kylie agreed and let me off work after lunch once I had finished the stuff that needed to get done for the day. I was thrilled to get off so early, even more so than usual because it was such a nice day outside. This gave me the chance to head to the gym early, then get back to camp and do my laundry and get a few things done I had not gotten to do while I was in Seattle. Sunday was a pretty nice day also, and though I did not get off early, it went by pretty fast because our shift started at 8 and we were off by 4. Kylie only worked a half day Sunday and Brad came in for her at lunch because she had a trip planned to Vancouver for her two days off. Brad O'Brien was the night manager at Whistler Olympic Park during the Olympic Games and is now the supervisor for our Parkaid staff at Creekside. His work style is less serious and much more relaxed than Kylie's, because he doesn't seemed to get stressed very easily. Since work was so slow he decided to let us off thirty minutes early yesterday (Sunday) and I expect him to do the same today. Though he is more relaxed Brad seems to have a serious work ethic for when stuff needs to be done just a more relaxed one when there is not much going on. It is just me working at the helpdesk today, Lexi has begun working here too but has her days off through Tuesday. She came into the office today on her way to go snowboarding. One of the best parts of working at Creekside is that Clean Event has five workforce lift passes that enable our workforce to be able to ski/snowboard for free on our days off. I have not had the chance to take advantage of this opportunity yet but I plan to if i can get any days off. This is a huge bonus, lift tickets for a full day in Whistler are ninety-seven dollars with tax. From yesterday (Sunday), there were two weeks left of work for the USC interns in Whistler. It has been a long, fun, crazy trip but now that its March I am ready to go home. I am going to buy my tickets to Carolina Cup this week, which is the 27th, the weekend after I get back. It should be a lot of fun and a great chance to see everyone from school that I have not seen since the first semester. I did not go to Carolina Cup last year so I am excited to see what everyone is talking about. The Paralympics officially start with the opening ceremony on Friday but the first event at Creekside is Saturday. There was a lot of excitement in the days leading up to the Olympics that does not seem to be here in the week leading up to the Paralympics. This may not be true of the athletes and spectators but it is of the workforce, who mainly are worn out. Having said that it should be amazing to see the some of the athletes participating in the Paralympics. There will be skiiers at creekside skiing on one or no legs, also athletes that are blind will be competing here.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
I just arrived back in Whistler and enjoying the last little bit of our break from work. The recap from Seattle starts Wednesday night when Dolton and I went to PF Chang's for dinner for some good asian cuisine. Following such a good meal was going to see "Edge of Darkness", Mel Gibson's latest film. The movie had a very detailed, well thought-out storyline yet was slightly over dramatic for what was supposed to be a great action movie. Mel Gibson was good in the film but it needed more action to be great. Thursday was our last full day and Seattle and really our last full day off since much of Friday would be spent on a bus getting back to Whistler. The highlight of this day was definitely getting a tour of the Mariners Stadium in Seattle. It was a unique experience to get to go inside the locker room, media room, press boxes, dugout and even onto the field where the players play. Our tour guide was the self proclaimed "best tour guide" at the stadium and gave a very detailed description of the stadium in about an hour and a half tour. After spending some time in the team store Dolton and I headed by Qwest Field, where the Seahawks play to grab a few pictures. The stadium was not giving tours today but we were able to see a decent bit of it from walking around the outside. Next we walked around Pioneer Square, more of the historic side of Seattle. In fact we walked all the way back to Pike Place Market where we grabbed lunch at Chipotle. Back home I am a huge fan of Qdoba but wanted to hear what Chipotle was all about so we gave it a shot. I would have to say it would arguably as good as Qdoba but not better. From here Dolton and I walked around the mall some before taking the monorail back to the Seattle Center which was just a short walk from our hotel. It was nice to just be able to relax in the room and watch some television in quiet. I ended up falling asleep and taking a nap for an hour or so. Once I woke back up I showered and Dolton and I headed back to the mall. We were planning to grab dinner and head to Gameworks where they were having all you can play for only $10 from 9 until midnight. After eating and getting to Gameworks we realized we were going to be joined by about fifty other people for this special deal. Realizing we were not in the mood to wait for games we headed back to the room to watch some TV and continue to relax on what little time we had off left. This morning we left the hotel about eight, boarded a bus that left for Vancouver around 845 and got to Vancouver shortly after 1. This was because of the bus driving slow and numerous stops along the way. Our layover in between bus rides was in Vancouver for about 2 hours. We boarded a bus to Whistler around 3 and arrived in the village at approximately 5pm. This got us back to camp by 530 and the fact that we were about to head back to work set in. After tomorrow we will have exactly two weeks of work left and then a few days in Vancouver before heading home. This has been a great trip, I have gotten to see a lot but I am ready to be home.
Seattle has been exactly the break we needed from working in Whistler. Our break kicked off with a party at camp on Monday night in which hot dogs and hamburgers were grilled for dinner. The four of us going to Seattle, Dolton, Sarah, Christine and I had planned to take a greyhound bus from Whistler Village to Seattle and back, but found out that one of the Clean Event drivers was actually taking a bus back to Portland, Oregon on Tuesday and was going through Seattle on the way. This saved each of us going around fifty dollars because we were able to purchase a one way ticket instead of a roundtrip one. The drive taking a bus including stops would have been between eight and nine hours but by riding with the Clean Event driver we made it to Seattle in just over five hours. Prior to making the trip we had asked a few of the people in camp from Seattle about what we should do in our days there as well as done some research on tourist attractions. The Space Needle was our first priority followed by seeing the Mariners and Seahawks stadium. Personally I was really looking forward to the good food awaiting me in Seattle and getting a break from the expensive food in Whistler and the routine dinners at camp. I even looked for Qdoba in Seattle before we left because I had not gotten good mexican food in over two months. On Tuesday we got into Seattle around 430pm and checked into our hotel. It was nothing fancy but was much more spacious than the trailers we had been living in and we had a bathroom and shower IN THE ROOM. This is something we all took for granted before making the trip to Whistler earlier this semester. Our hotel offered a breakfast buffet each morning for just five dollars, had free wifi and a workout room downstairs. We were temporarily in heaven. On Tuesday night after getting in we did a little research on local seafood and walked to a place called The Fisherman, on Seattle's waterfront. The place was empty and we were seated and waited on immediately. I had delicious fettuccine alfredo with smoked salmon on top with a caesar salad. In addition to this we all ordered a crap dip as an appetizer. This was easily the best meal I had received since leaving the United States on January 9th. After enjoying this feast we walked around a little and explored on our way back to our hotel. It was dark and we were tired so we decided to make it an early night. Today (Wednesday) I got up early to workout before breakfast and later we all headed into downtown. The famous "Pike Place Market" in Seattle was the center of most of the shops and was where we headed this morning. It was cool to see all the different tables set up in the market selling all different kinds of trade good and at one end there were several fisherman selling their array of catches. One of the tables/corners featured a group of men singing songs. telling jokes and poking fun at customers with their fish tied to a string. The atmosphere was a fun, exciting one. From here Dolton and I decided to find the first Starbucks in the world, which ended up only being two blocks away from the market. After grabbing a coffee and taking a few pictures we began our adventure around Seattle's downtown venturing in many of its shops and stores. Many of our conversations at camp in Whistler have been debating the best Mexican restaurant, Qdoba or Chipotle. In Seattle they sit opposite corners from each other and one was lunch today, while the other will be lunch tomorrow. This will settle any controversy in my mind. Tonight Dolton and I are looking to go to dinner and possibly a movie as one of the many things to do in Seattle.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Today is March 1st , and wow time flies by. It is hard for me to believe I have been gone from school and been in Whistler for almost two months. It's a huge relief that the Olympics are over but everyone seems to just want to be going home now. This has something to do with the excitement of the games being over, combined with all the people that are leaving and returning home. All of the Johnson & Wales interns left this morning to go spend a day or two in Vancouver before they head back to school. It is nice to have more room to keep our stuff again but it is sad to see many of them leave. Most of the USC interns I have talked to also wish we were all leaving too. I know we have all had a blast here but look forward to seeing our families and getting back to the school we love. This past weekend was a fun one because of the games wrapping up and all the stuff going on tied in with it. Most everyone from Clean Event ventured into Whistler nightlife this weekend, but I only chose to go out Friday because I had the next day off. A large group of us went to Merlin's where they were having a live band and it overall was a really fun time. Saturday I spent sleeping, working out and relaxing, the usual day off routine. It was supposed to be a class day but it was cancelled because of most of the people in the company being occupied and the people that were not needed a day off. Yesterday (Sunday) was such a slow day at work. We did not start until eight which was great and it was weird being at the venue because the number of people around had dropped dramatically. When I arrive in the morning I am used to seeing almost a hundred people trying to get breakfast in the work force break tent and this time around there was maybe six people getting breakfast. The people that were on-site planned to watch the USA Canada hockey game at 1215. For those who watched they know it was a great game with the US tying the score at two with under a minute left. Unfortunately for United States fans the Canadians won on a Sydney Crosby goal in overtime. Today at work is just as slow as yesterday with no helpdesk calls and most people signing off early due to lack of work for them to due. This is the last day I have to work until Saturday! All of the USC interns are getting four days in a row off between the Olympic and Paralympic games. Four of us, Dolton, Christine, Sarah and I are going to Seattle tomorrow for three nights to get away from camp and explore a city none of us have ever been to. I am really excited because I have heard a lot about Seattle but never been anywhere close to have the chance to go. Arguably the best part will be being in the United States because I can use my cell phone without being charged international rates.
The end is near! The 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games have truly been a once in a lifetime experience for me and all the interns that are here but I hate to say we are glad they are close to coming to an end. Despite some of the amazing moments, we are all ready to see the twelve hour shifts come to an end. Yesterday was originally a non-event day at Whistler Creekside but because the second run of one of the ladies' competition was postponed due to weather, it was completed on Thursday. This meant our staff would have an earlier start than normal, around 5am instead of 7am but our day was much shorter because the competition ended around 11 and we are contracted for the post clean which takes two and a half to three hours. The early starts really get to me when we stay until four or five in the afternoon. However this week so far has not been bad at all and much better than the week previous. Today (Friday) is the last event day I have to work because tomorrow (Saturday) I have my last class day. This event day is one of the longest because it has a morning and afternoon run but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak so it seems to be going by at a good pace. It is just me at the helpdesk today which I prefer because I am a hands on person and like to be as involved as I can in what is going on with Clean Event on-site. We have had five calls so far today but most are about slippery surfaces or minor issues that are hard to be avoided with the number of people being at the venue today. A lot of the staff at Creekside is leaving after the Olympics end and that part of the games ending is sad. We have a pretty tight crew here that all get along really well and seem to work well together. Kate, Jen and Sam are all leaving after the Olympics to continue traveling and are some of our best workers not to mention most of the personality of the workforce. I think when I look back at this trip overall I will marvel at the amazing people I met despite how hard the work was or the things I missed while I was there. Clean Event is a rare company because of the diversity in the people that work for it. I have met people from other ten different countries and have been fascinated in learning about all the different cultures. On a different note I am looking forward to the weekend and another class day. Because of the limited space in our trailer at the moment I am looking forward to all of the other interns leaving but I really have started to like a lot of them. At first we were all unsure of each other and in each other's way, but now we have really started to bond. It is a shame they have not been here the whole time or the trip itself would have been a lot more fun minus the close living quarters.
Today is Wednesday February 24th and it is a class day for me. These days have been a great chance to recover from the long work days and get some stuff done around camp. Usually we have a meeting in the recreation room trailer with Scott Williams or someone else from the company to talk but today was different. Today all the interns were attending a presentation from two members from the IOC or International Olympic Committee. Everyone met outside the venue media center in Whistler at 1130 to attend the two hour presentation. This is one experience not many people get the opportunity to have in the sports world and was a great chance for all of us studying Sport and Entertainment Management at school. Both members from the IOC talked about all the work that goes into planning one set of games and how it is a seven year process. They explained how the responsibility is delegated and split up and how the IOC presents a model plan to the site picked for the upcoming games and they come back and present their own version of the IOC's model. I found this presentation to be very fascinating. I did not know all that much about the IOC except that they were in charge of picking the next Olympic sites. Almost the more interesting part was hearing both of the IOC employees explain their individual rolls inside the IOC and how they got to be where they are at this point in their life. I am unsure of where my career path will take me so I always am interested to see if these people in the industry always planned to do what they are doing. They elaborated also on the specifics of an Olympic committee doing things in-house versus contracting a client to complete some of the work. It was ridiculous how much work and planning has to go into such a big sports event. At the end of the presentation each of the IOC employees gave out some of the "famous" Olympic pins that everyone seems to be collecting. The rest of the day I spent going to the gym and relaxing to prepare for the long days of work ahead. Yesterday I got my first actual day off since the games have begun and it was amazing. I slept in until 11 or so, ate lunch, did laundry and then proceeded to take a nap. This may sound lame or pathetic but the two things I needed to get done were laundry and to catch up on sleep so this day was perfect. It was very relaxing to not be on a schedule at all for one whole day. My entire time here in Whistler has been great but has for the most part been extremely busy and I have not spent a lot of time relaxing. After taking a nap I went and took the bus to meet Dolton at the gym to workout for a little while.
Friday, February 26, 2010
The weekend was somewhat eventful but involved more work than anything. I went out with Dolton, one of the other USC interns on Friday to a bar called Merlin's. We went out around 630 pm because I had to start work at 430am the next morning. Accompanying us was Kenan, his girlfriend Kirsten, Murray, and Irish Phil, a few of the cooler folk around camp. Merlin's was packed already when we got there most likely because of the Olympics and the fact that they were advertising a five dollar burger, unheard of in Whistler. We stumbled into a few of the girl workers from Creekside and all got a table upstairs to have a chance to kick back away from work. It was a lot of fun but it was disappointing that I had to be up so early the next morning, or arguably later that night. Dolton and I headed back on the shuttle around 1130 and I went straight to be to try and get all of 3 hours of sleep for work the next day. Saturday and Sunday were both event days so they were each about 12 hours long. Saturday seemed longer because I was low on sleep but Kylie let me go by three so I got to the chance to catch up that afternoon/night. Sunday was much anticipated in Whistler because of the hockey game between the United States in Canada. Leading up to the game everyone I had heard talk around Whistler seemed convinced that Canada was going to beat the United States. I do not think I even met one person to say it would be a good game and give the United States any credit. As many of you know by now the United States took the lead first and eventually won the game 5 to 3. Canadians in Whistler immediately began talking about how Canada outshot the United States and that they would still win the gold medal. Well personally I found it amusing to see the United States win and the faces of all the over-confident Canadians as we beat them in their sport in their own country. I am not gonna take this game as any sign to predetermine who will win the gold medal in hockey but it was entertaining for the day or so. Today at work it is one of the few non-event days we have had at Creekside. Three or four of the staff have gotten the day off while several others have been signed off early. There have only been two or three calls that were small things people were finding in making sure everything was spotless for the next few days of competition. On the intern schedule I was supposed to have the day off, but Hughie was running the venue for the day so that Kylie could have the day off. Kylie asked if I would come in and work because I knew the venue the best of the interns since I had been here longer and could assist Hughie. Today has mainly been filled with calls by Hughie attempting to correct every small thing out of place. He has not been in the office a whole lot which is nice. I am pretty sure that I have the day off tomorrow since I did not today and I cannot wait. Without Kylie on site and Hughie kept busy, it is as if I am the venue manager for the day. It has been really cool to see what all Kylie does so far and is even more exciting to get to take her place if even for just a day. I know it is a non event day and somewhat slow but it is nice to have some responsibility and the chance to be a leader.
Today (Friday) I have my second class day of the week. Class days as I have previously mentioned are nice because it allows me to be able to sleep in. They are made up of two parts, a one to two hour class session and a tour of one of the Olympic venues in Whistler. After having the opportunity to go to Cypress Mountain the other night and see Shaun White in the snowboard halfpipe there is not a lot left I am really interested in seeing at the Winter Olympics. Yesterday was another long day at work with a 430 am start but the day itself went very smooth and we hardly had any helpdesk issues. It was nice to be able to put into action all the ideas and concepts Hughie had left us with without him there breathing down everyone's neck. For the venue tour today as a part of the class day is a trip to Whistler Creekside where I work. It was difficult to get out of bed this morning but not as hard as it was to get up at 315 am the day before. The tour did not consist of much because there is not a lot to see at Creekside past the small village, the view and the finish line for the alpine events. The tour took place at 9am and since the event was not going on until eleven, it was a fairly short tour. I did not mind this because it gave me the opportunity to go and workout before I headed back to camp to grab lunch. For the class part today we were originally told that the guest speaker, Pat Leahy, one of the partners of Incognitus, would not be available to talk because he was going to be in Vancouver for the day. It turned out that he was not leaving until 2pm so those of us that were around camp were able to hear his presentation from him, instead of from Scott. Incognitus is a consulting company that does many different things inside the entertainment and sports world. Pat's presentation today was about how to approach an interview. It offered more than just the obvious tips and gave a list of reasons why a person may not receive a call after being interviewed. I found Pat's presentation to be very interesting and it made me consider a few things I have never thought of. One of the keys he mentioned was to always ask at least one question, preferably two, after any interview. This was to show interest in the position and show that the person being interviewed was paying attention. He made the point that the interviewer most of the time has left something out because s/he is busy and stressed. Pat also stressed that it is important to know as much as possible about the company and the position in which you are interviewing for. He talked about Salary and said a good response to a question about pay would be "I trust that a company such as this would pay something competitive and fair for the amount of work required for the position." If the company was to want a specific number, research prior to the interview about similar position salaries is very important. Overall Pat gave a very informative and well-organized presentation that I felt like I could take something away from. He gave all of us his business card and explained a little bit about what he does with Incognitus and how he got to where he is. I found his job intriguing because even though I would not mind to travel some in the industry I would also be interested in a position or part of the industry that had some stability in its location. Pat was an American and not originally part of Clean Event, different from most of the other people that have had the chance to talk with the interns. After class I took a short nap and decided I would go out into town for awhile for the first time in over a week. The early starts have really taken a lot of my energy but it would be nice to get out of the camp and be able to have a little fun away from work. The weekend will consist of two long days but also the much anticipated Canada-United States ice hockey game. There is a feeling around Whistler that many Canadians have been looking past many of the other events and ahead to the ice hockey games. Should be interesting.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
This week has been going by slow. Yesterday (Tuesday) was one of the longest days I think I have ever worked. I got to Creekside around 430 am and did not get off until 530pm. I usually wouldn't be as worn out after that long of a shift if I were able to sleep later than 330 in the morning. It has been tough to get good sleep with so many people in our trailer and on so many different schedules. Everything around the games is exciting and the amount of people in Whistler is clearly a lot more than the week before. However the long working hours and low amount of sleep have been the downfall. Today(Wednesday) was a much better day and arguably will be the best day of the Olympics for myself. Work began at 6am and at 12 I got off to take a trip to Cypress Mountain with the other USC interns to see the Men's Snowboard halfpipe outside Vancouver. It was a hectic morning at Creekside because Hughie was hear trying to run the show. Gabby was also here helping with rosters and helpdesk, and once Hughie got wind of the planned trip he had not been informed about, no one was safe so to speak. Hughie seemed infuriated that some sort of trip had been planned without his knowledge, especially on one of the busiest work days for the company. He proceeded to tell me that what if everyone decided to take the day off to go snowboarding, that I was here to work and there would be no trip to Cypress. I was frustrated because I felt like I was being singled out of a group trip that I had not even planned. Hughie went on to say that I needed to be on-site at Creekside every event day of the games and half days on non-event days, regardless of the other interns. This did not seem fair to me or make sense when we have four interns assigned to work at creekside to do a one, sometimes two person job. Luckily Gabby was present and not afraid to challenge Hughie after he calmed down and explain the fairness of the situation. Gabby and I had just enough time to run in our rooms at camp and change clothes before the bus left for Cypress. This was a nice getaway from a stressful work area and an amazing opportunity to see one of the most anticipated events of the Olympic games. We arrived at Cypress around 5pm in time to watch the semifinal runs for the halfpipe and stayed through the final rounds. Shaun White was the clear-cut winner, winning on his first of two runs, allowing himself to be able to do something of a victory run/lap in which he unveiled his new trick the double mctwist. I was amazed at the slope of the halfpipe and its overall size. One of the other Americans, Scotty Lago medaled and Gregg Bretz, another American, was also in the final. Cypress was an interesting venue because of its layout and the fact that the playing field had snow but all the area around it was rocks and mud. Cypress was the talk before the games because it had been too warm for it to snow and it ended up having to be brought in. Visually Cypress was nothing pretty but it seemed to work, and was reported to have been a very expensive project. While watching the semifinals I got the chance to be within feet of former skateboarding star Tony Hawk who was in attendance. Many of the girls were able to get a picture with him. The other celebrity I saw was Chris Collinsworth from NBC, who is commonly seen on Sunday Night Football as a football analyst. Chris was down in front of the bleachers in the media area where Dolton and I stood to watch the event. I spoke to him and said how are you doing Chris as I passed him and he smiled back. This was an awesome event to see live because of how few people get to see it and for the fact that Shaun White had arguably his best performance ever.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Here I sit writing this blog on Monday afternoon answering helpdesk calls and waiting for the staff to clean the venue after the completion of competition on our first event day. Saturday, February 13th was supposed to be our first day of competition but because of snowfall at the peak of the mountain and the limited visibility our events for Saturday and Sunday have been postponed. Saturday was supposed to be the Men's Downhill Skiing which got moved to this morning, and Sunday was supposed to be the Women's Combined run which got moved to Thursday. For the most part I think our first event day has gone pretty well. Cory was the other intern on-site with me today and since Steve Taylor, our representative from South Carolina is in town, I got to go up and watch the men's downhill. I knew very little about skiing in the Olympics before coming to Whistler but I have learned a decent amount from working at the venue and being in the area where the Olympics are taking place. I was cheering for Bode Miller, the well-known, often criticized American skiier who was in first for awhile but ended up taking the bronze. It was amazing to finally see an actual Olympic event because the buildup to the Olympics has been more than I have ever seen and heard for any other sporting event. This was the first time I had watched the Alpine skiing and I was truly impressed and surprised at how fast the skiiers were able to make it down what looked to be a very tough ski run. After getting back into the office I worked at the helpdesk for the rest of the afternoon and was happy to see that we did not get an enormous amount of calls. In all honesty so far the way Clean Event portrayed event days to go was that they were going to be a lot worse than they really are. Sure it gets hectic at times and workers spend time running all over the place but not near the scale I was instructed to expect. On our busiest day so far, today, we have gotten eleven calls to the helpdesk, when I was expecting an event day to venture somewhere closer to 30 calls. There is the possibility that just because it is our first day we have not had as many calls, so I may know more after a few days of events have passed. In an attempt to solve the problem of having so many of us in the office, Cory and I have made up an intern schedule allowing each of us to have a day off each week. Mine was yesterday but I helped out one of the girls at camp and worked in the camp office for half the day so that she could go and watch the luge. It was great because I got to sleep in until eleven and catch up on a few of the hours I had missed over the past week. Many of the venues are doing shift times in which people go in early and get off early, or go in late and get off late but at the moment it is nice to actually have a full day off. Today was exciting because I got to watch an actual event but for the most part the Olympics are just more work for the workforce. I am looking forward to having more days off come March and eventually getting back home to have days to sleep in and relax, rather than work helpdesk for 12 hours. Having said that, this experience really has been an awesome one so far. There are some rough times but for the majority of the time I have learned a lot about the nature of an event manager and gotten to experience some things most people do not get to in their lifetime. I'm excited to see what the rest of the Olympics and this trip brings but I cannot help but look forward to getting back home because of the people and places I miss.
This week has by far been the most stressful of my time in Whistler so far. All of the new interns have arrived and have packed the trailer about as tight as one could imagine. I have put all of my clothes that I will not wear to work or to lay around in, in a locker in the rec room and have tried to consolidate the amount of stuff I have in the room. I have two bags half-full underneath my bed and no room anywhere else in the room to put stuff other than on my bed. Before the JWU interns arrived Dolton and I had 6 beds including our own to spread our stuff out on as well as almost an entire corner of the trailer to keep everything. Now all 6 of those beds are full and the floor is covered in everyone's clothes and big suitcases. The work days have gotten much longer, prior to this week we were keeping a pretty consistent schedule of working 8-9 hours each day. This week has been closer to ten hours each day on average and sometimes closer to twelve not even counting the time to get to and from work. I like most of the new JWU interns I have met so far but there does not seem to be enough work for us all to do in the office. Right now we have four interns on days where there is no class and on class days either two or three on-site. The "classes" consist on a lecture from someone inside the company or in the event management field for a few hours, followed by a tour/visit to one of the venues. Thursday was my first class day and other than being tired from the work week I thought it went really well. It was nice to get to sleep past 5am and not have to be up until 9am for the tour. On this day we went to the Sliding Center in which I got the chance to see the bobsled/skeleton/luge course and even watch some of the americans complete their practice runs for the luge. After the tour we had about two hours once we got back to camp to eat and hang out before class. During our class time I had the privilege of listening to Craig Lovett, Clean Event's owner. He gave us some insight into how he got to where he is and some practical advice for people looking to get into event management. I thought it was very interesting and informative to hear what all he had to say. It was a nice change from all the facts and generalizations you get sometimes from just reading a textbook. At times it was difficult for me to stay alert during the entire talk because I was sleep deprived from the early starts at work so far this week. Friday is usually a day that goes by pretty fast and everyone is anxious for the weekend. This time around no one has the weekend off with the beginning of the games so it went a little rougher. As I mentioned earlier there really has not been enough work for multiple interns to do at Creekside.The most frustrating part is that there is only one phone to answer and one internet connection to use. This allows for there to be a lot of down time spent just sitting around. I am frustrated at times because I do not think we all need to be there and I would really like to go back and get some sleep. Also our shift on Friday lasted 12 hours and really put a damper on any excitement I had for the weekend.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Work has picked up its pace compared to previous days on-site at the Creekside helpdesk. Yesterday Bruce and Benoit, the two guys for VANOC ( Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Olympics Games) in charge of SCW (Snow Clearing, Cleaning and Waste), were doing a run over the entire site to see what all needed to be done. This meant each individual problem was called into the helpdesk, must be logged, timed, and relayed to the person in the appropriate area. So if a liner needed to be placed into a waste bin, a detailed issue report must be filled out and timed each time it was called in. This was only the beginning to yesterday being a stressful day. Our team at Creekside usually communicates by radio or push-to-talk phones to explain to each other what is going on where and what needs to get done. Yesterday there were not enough radios for me to have one at the desk so my only means of communication was to call and relay the messages to Kylie. This has worked fine previously with a limited number of issues but on this day we had close to 20 issues, more than three times the usual daily amount. This made it difficult for me to keep track of who was doing what and if in fact these calls were getting done. As a result a few things did not get done, Bruce and Benoit pointed them out and then we had to go and do them after they asked again. Hughie, Kylie's supervisor was also on site for the day as he commonly is and was taking the majority of Kylie's attention, making it more difficult for everyone to stay on top of helpdesk calls. Needless to say I was happy when the workday was over and ready to start fresh another day. From work yesterday I headed straight to the gym in Creekside to meet Dolton. We both worked out for forty five minutes to an hour then headed back to camp. One of the more frustrating parts of this whole experience has been the transport situation and the lack of vehicles verus the number of people needing rides. Yesterday Dolton and I had to wait almost an hour on a shuttle after riding one of the BC Transit buses to the usual place where CleanEvent picks everyone up. After getting back to camp I ate dinner and relaxed for most of the night. The internet was being very spotty as usual and almost refusing to work. As an alternative Dolton and I played video games for an hour or two and watched some tv shows we had on disc. Today I am back in the office at Creekside and aside from Hughie being all over everyone about their work the day is going much better than yesterday. The calls have slowed and has allowed us to be more organized and on top of the calls we have gotten.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Today is Saturday February 6 and it is the last Saturday I will have until March. My parents were catching a shuttle this morning from their hotel in the village to head to Vancouver to catch their flight back to Charlotte, NC. It was a little sad to see them leave because I had missed them and had a lot of fun with them being here but it ultimately makes me look forward to being back home after all the games. Having said that Monday things will be in full throttle and I'm anxious to see if the Olympic games live up to all the hype. This past week, since my last blog, I worked Wednesday and Thursday and spent Friday with my parents. Wednesday and Thursday were fairly easy days, the number of help desk calls increased slightly and everyone was a bit on-edge since Kylie's supervisor Hughie was on-site managing. Thursday was the first day the work force break area was up and running with food being served during meal times and coffee and snacks provided in-between. I did not eat lunch on Thursday on-site because I met my parents but I was told by several of the guys the food was pretty good. Each worker for Cleanevent gets a meal voucher each day for lunch in the Work Force Break Tent. Yesterday I had the day off and I met my parents for breakfast in the village at a place called Ingrid's. It is near the visitor's center and I highly recommend it to anyone because of the variety on its' menu as well as its affordable prices. After having breakfast my parents and I were off to go snowmobiling. We were picked up at 11:15 and to our surprise we were the only ones scheduled at this time to go snowmobiling. Actually we had the same driver from dogsledding and he would end up being our guide. On the way to snowmobiling we noticed the excessive number of police stationed almost every half mile along Highway 99, the main road going through Whistler. I assume this is only with anticipation for the games. Also I have noticed military helicopters flying over patrolling all the backcountry and have been told many soldiers are stationed all along the areas surrounding Whistler. Once we got to snowmobiling we got a brief explanation of how the machines worked and we were off on our adventure. The machines operated very similar to a jetski or atv, but were a little bit harder to control because of their tendency to slide on the melting snow since the temperature was above freezing. Since the tour just consisted of the guide on one snowmobile, my parents on one and I on the other, we moved at what I considered a pretty fast pace. The tour was gradual just like that of dogsledding but moved much faster because we were riding machines. About twenty minutes into the run my parents were approaching a turn and because of their speed and the weight on the back their snowmobile, the snowmobile turned over with them on it! I was having a hard time believing my eyes, I figured I would flip it over before my Dad would. Immediately I parked mine and jumped off to see if they were okay and they were fine and laughing about what just happened. I helped my dad flip the snowmobile back over and we were back on our way. The tour was gorgeous, so much scenery to take in though it was foggy for much of the ride. Our guide showed us different sides of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain as well as the creeks in the area. Also he showed us the backside of what used to be a volcano that had not erupted in some 2000 years. The view of all of it was unbelievable. After getting back from snowmobiling we all took a short nap before eating and heading into the village. Yesterday (Friday) was when the Olympic Torch was coming into Whistler. There were musical performances from local groups on two different stages along with lots of pictures being taken as the torch was brought in and through the village. I have been in Whistler for four weeks and I saw more people at one time in the village than I have seen the entire time I have been here when the torch arrived. It was really cool to see the actual torch and the runners dressed in white olympic suits bringing it in. After taking several pictures and enjoying some of the music my parents and I went to dinner, shopped around the village and headed in for the night. I caught a bus back late to camp, told them my farewells and I am now enjoying my last two days of freedom for awhile. It was sad to see them go but the time I had with them up here was a lot of fun but I was ready to rest after a week of getting up at 6am every day.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Today (Wednesday) I am back at work at Creekside after having the day off yesterday to spend some time with my parents who came up for the week. Kylie, my venue manager and Gabby who works in the office were able to work out for me to get off yesterday and Friday since my parents are here. They got in monday night and will be here through Saturday. On Monday when they got in I took one of the BC transit buses from Creekside over to Whistler Village where they were staying. Their hotel is the Whistler Delta Suites and is right in the middle of the village. I was really anxious to see them and was excited when I finally got to. I had gone this long without seeing them but it felt weirder this time since I am so far away. On the night they got in we caught up in their room while I changed and over dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. The rest of the night we spent walking around Whistler so I could show them all the places everyone hangs out at. We ran into my Venue Manager Kylie and her boss Hughie walking around. I headed back on the 11 o'clock shuttle because their room wasn't big enough for me to stay but I was heading back to see them early in the morning. Yesterday (Tuesday) we went out to breakfast at Mogul's (Whistler's best coffee/breakfast place) and then went dogsledding. My parents don't ski too much anymore or haven't in a few years so we looked at many of the other amazing things Whistler has to offer. The shuttle for dogsledding picked us up outside the hotel around 1215 when we were scheduled to start at 1230. It took us to a place on Blackcomb Mountain close to Whistler Olympic Park, where the Biatholon, Cross Country Skiing, Ski Jump and Nordic Sports events for the 2010 Winter Olympics were being held. At one stopping point during dogsledding we could actually see the Ski Jump from far away. When we got to the dogsledding place we got out and they introduced us to all the dogs we would be using and helped the guide harness each dog onto the dogsled. Each sled took 7-8 dogs to pull it and each sled had a place for two people to sit in it with a guide on the back. The dogs were part husky and part greyhound, and started on training once they are 7 months old with a sled on wheels in the summer. My parents rode together on one sled with one guide and i rode in a sled by myself with a guide on the back. The ride starts slow and progressively got faster, mainly because the trail was more uphill on the way and downhill on the way back. They let us stand on the back of the sled and help guide once the guide was able to get full control of the dogs and how they were running. The total ride lasted around an hour and a half before we got back to the starting point. We got to see some of the puppies they had on site and my mom really enjoyed that because she's such a dog lover. Dogsledding was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and the view was amazing and like nothing i had ever seen. After we got back to the hotel i took a nap because i was exhausted. We went and grabbed a bite to eat after and just relaxed for the night and caught up since I had to work early the next day. It has been nice getting back to work, I like being involved in everything that is going on on-site at Creekside. My parents are meeting me later today for lunch which I am looking forward to.
Tomorrow is February 1st and it is hard for me to believe I have already been in Whistler for 3 weeks. Yesterday I went skiing for the second time since I had been here and it was just as amazing if not more than the first time I went. In Whistler it gets dark around 5pm so the chairlifts to the ski slopes close between 2:30 and 3:30. Since they close so early it is important to be there as soon as the resort opens at 8am. I went skiing yesterday with one of the other USC interns Stephanie Raguseo and four of the guys from Australia. I have tried snowboarding once in my life but felt that on this day it was smart to ski because I'm comfortable with it and I knew all the people I was going with were experienced snowboarders and would not want to wait on someone learning. My ski experience previous to coming to Whistler has been most in the North Carolina mountains with one trip to Winterplace in West Virginia a few years ago. Needless to say I would not consider myself more than someone who is able to ski and was a bit nervous about how tough some of the runs at Whistler could be. After asking everyone I was going with if we could not start from the top of the mountain, we loaded the Gondola (a enclosed chairlift) to head to the top of Whistler Mountain. Whistler is renowned for its skiing and snowboarding, it has two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb which together combine to makeup over 200 slopes. It takes loading onto four different chairlifts to get to the top of Blackcomb Mountain and over an hour to make your way down. The best part arguably of the ski resort is there peak to peak Gondola that goes from the peak of Blackcomb Mountain to the peak of Whistler or vice versa. Skiing is expensive in Whistler but what isn't. A full day lift ticket goes for around 97 dollars with tax and a rental anywhere from 30 to 50 dollars depending on the place. Luckily during the month of February an accreditation pass for the Olympics gets 20% off a lift ticket and the rental pending any days off. On this day I only received 20% off the rental since it was not yet February and I could not manage to bargain for the discount on the lift ticket. Upon exiting the chairlift at the top I split from the group to try the easier of the runs. Overall the day went pretty well, I fell a decent number of times but seemed to ski better and faster on more difficult runs as the day progressed. I ran into the rest of the group shortly after lunch at the end of one of the runs. We all loaded onto the Whistler Gondola and took a 20 minute ride to the top. After getting to back to the bottom and finishing up I returned my ski's and we all headed back to camp. After getting back to camp I decided to head into Creekside with the other guy from USC Dolton Williams and go spend an hour at the athletic club or gym we had joined for the month. It was around 53 dollars to use their gym for a month that is similar to a small version of the YMCA. It sure was no Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center at USC. After getting back from the gym Dolton and I ate and showered to head out with everyone. Shuttles have been running on the half hour every hour at night into the village and 730 is always the most popular because it is the first after dinner. On this night we started in a bar called Circa and later went to a nightclub for a few hours called Buffalo Bill's. Buffalo Bill's is one of the more popular places and the only true nightclub I have been to in Whistler. About eight of us piled into a cab at the end of the night, which runs around 35 dollars all the way back to camp but is not bad when split 8 ways. Today, Sunday January 31 is a day I plan to spend getting my laundry done, all my stuff organized and getting rested up for another week of work. So far we have been working 8 to 9 hour days Monday through Friday and had the weekends off. This will end after next weekend and we will be expected to work 6 to 7 day weeks during the games.