Friday, February 26, 2010

Monday February 22nd

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.

Friday February 19, Almost Halfway Through The Games

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

Wednesday February 17th

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

The Games Have Begun

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.

2nd Half of Work Week Pre-Games

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

Beginning of Work Week

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

Last Free Weekend

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

Parents Here

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.

End of January

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.