Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thanksgiving Service…..Sort Of

As I am here in California doing my internship, I am away from my family.  Add in the fact that my parents live in west Asia, and my siblings multiple time zones away, I ended up just staying put for thanksgiving.  However, I had no idea what to do.  In previous years, I had always volunteered to work on Thanksgiving to make more money.  To avoid cooking, I would usually stop by a fast food restaurant and pig out by buying enough fatty foods to last me the rest of the day, and sometimes beyond.  However, with no work to be had, I found out from a rugby teammate of mine that the Santa Monica Shelter provided food to underprivileged families on thanksgiving, and that I could volunteer to work there. 

So on Thanksgiving I showed up at 6 am to volunteer, and there was a huge line of people.  As it turned out, this was one of the only places that you could volunteer and work without having to sign up.  Because of that, there were probably 60-80 high school kids there to get service credit for some school class.  This place was also allowing service to count towards community service for the penal system.  This attracted 60 or so parolees as well, who were talking about past crimes, where they served time, etc… 

My "Shift" Of Volunteers Standing Around Our Handy Work Waiting For The Doors To Be Opened For The Families

There were so many volunteers, that they would only allow us to work in two hour shifts, then ask us to leave and walk around the building and stand in line by the side entrance to volunteer for another shift two hours later.  I stayed for two shifts (6 hours) and then decided it was so crazy that I would just head home and watch football.  It was fun to see some of the families come in, sit down, and then have us bring the food to their tables restaurant style.  However, it quickly became evident that there were more volunteers than there were people needing/wanting to be served.  Because of this, the organizers asked us to sit down and eat once our shift was over, as they had excess food. 

But I had already planned to do the fast food thing like I had done in previous years, so I was ready to splurge.  But to my shock, Wendy’s and Taco Bell were both closed.  Thank heaven for Jack in the Box, as they were open.  It didn’t surprise me at all that there was a lot of people inside, as well as long lines in the drive through.  I ordered multiple burgers and a large shake.  The burgers would be able to last me for lunch, dinner, and potentially breakfast J (don’t judge, as a single male, I am allowed to eat fast food for breakfast). 

As I had not eaten anything all day, the food only lasted me up until just before I went to sleep, causing me to grab some pizza for lunch the next day.  But all in all, it was a very memorable Thanksgiving. 

Learning Points

As the semester is winding down, I am able to look back and see that I have indeed met some of my goals, but I still have a long way to go.  My internship is actually a two-semester internship and it is just heating up.  My coworker and I are part of a brand new fellowship being offered by ASU’s School of Public Affairs.  As the guinea pigs we have kind of had to roll with the punches and make a lot up as we go along.  Admittedly the two cities we were supposed to work with have had some large things on their plates, and now that that the holidays are here, some of the intended projects have been hit and miss.  However, we have been contacted about being included in a couple of really interesting projects starting in January. 

For this current month of December, we are focusing on helping the Alliance for Innovation update their 2013 case studies.  This has resulted in my coworker and I reading dozens and dozens of case studies.  This has been a welcome addition as I have been able to read numerous case studies addressing a large variety of local government topics.  These topics include everything from transportation management to water purification in the inner cities.  I believe that this will provide me with a wealth of knowledge in preparation for my working with city managers in January. 

While my internship is just beginning to heat up, I do feel that this semester has provided me with a better understanding of the inner workings of local government.  I have been lucky enough to start getting a behind the scenes look at two of America’s iconic cities.  As the cities transition into a new year, and with them promising to provide even more access, I am very encouraged about the semester to come. 

Letter to the Alliance

Dear Alliance for Innovation,

I am writing to express my thanks for this past semester as an inaugural California Fellow.  I thank you for allowing Cassie and me the opportunity to live and work here in Santa Monica, strengthening the partnership between the Alliance and ASU.  I know that this semester has been rather frustrating for you for a myriad of reasons, but I believe that we have learned a lot, and opened up important channels of communications that are going to allow Cassie and me to expand and accomplish much more in depth work for the cities of Santa Monica and West Hollywood.  Without your assistance, these lines of communication could not have been opened.  You have had our backs throughout these challenges and have gone to bat to help make the semester as successful as possible.  I look forward to the New Year and the challenges that have been promised in the new semester. 


Travis Orton

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

LinkedIn Mania (Career Services Write Up)

So, as I am currently living in LA, I am unable to attend the career service events for the class.  However, as me and my coworker (also in this internship class) have found, there are a vast library of webinars available for ASU students.  To make up for my career service event, I chose to watch a webinar from November 15th by Jennifer Rhodes.  The webinar is titled “How do I use LinkedIn for Networking and a Jo Search”.

I chose this webinar for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, I will be graduating next summer and could use any small advantage possible.  Second, I have been meaning to create a LinkedIn profile for a couple years now, but have never really gotten around to utilizing one.  I did actually start one about a year ago with the help of a friend, but I have not looked at it since that first day.  Needless to say, I don’t even know what LinkedIn is capable of.  I found this webinar very inspiring and informative.  I would recommend any student who is curious to check it out.  It was 56 minutes well spent. 

The first thing that jumped out at me was that the presenter highlighted that LinkedIn is a great networking tool.  She shared a statistic that over 70% of available jobs are never even posted.  This means that establishing networks and connections will likely be the most important method of finding a job opportunity. 

Another interesting recommendation that stuck out to me was to look up your interviewers on LinkedIn before going into an interview.  This is one way to gather background information and provide you with topics to use in conversation.  I guess it is like Facebook stalking, only to find a job rather than spy on your friends J. 

That said, all of the bells and whistles that are found on LinkedIn remind me of Facebook.  The LinkedIn interface allows you to input much more information than would be warranted on a resume.  You can get recommendations from previous employers and coworkers, or even upload presentations or previous work that you have accomplished.  You can even see key anniversary dates (hiring or promotion date) of those in your network.  This way you can congratulate them to maintain communication.  (I guess this is akin to the birthday feature on Facebook)

For anyone who is not a wiz at LinkedIn, I would recommend you go here to listen to this webinar.  I realize that I am not fully using all the tools that I have at my disposal.  I know what I will be doing tonight J.