Monday, March 29, 2010

Wednesday March 17th - St. Patty's Day Edition

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.

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