Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Remembering Andrew Heiss: Life from the Perspective of an Intern

Andrew Heiss was a summer Intern during 2015. He graduated from Towson University in December of 2015. Andrew’s father Joe is a CPA, a great personal friend and has been our accountant for neigh on 10 years. 

On the 11th of April, while attending a training program for a new research position for CoStar Realty in Richmond, VA, Andrew, at the age of 23 died in his sleep. 

During his summer employment, I asked Andrew to write an overview of his assignments and accomplishments for the next bunch of Interns. His poignant and illustrative remarks follow below:


Dear New Intern,

First off, I would like to congratulate you on obtaining an internship with The Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge!  This is my first of a few letters to you, as I write this one from the perspective of just one month, part-time, on the job.  You will learn about many aspects of working in an office, and many aspects of event management.  Not only will you be in the office, but you will be traveling to places that you haven’t imagined traveling to before.  I just returned from a Challenge in Tyler, Texas, and later this summer I will be heading to a Challenge in Lexington, Kentucky with the Firefighter Combat team.  Hopefully I will attend even more challenges.  In this letter, I will be discussing the various tasks that will be required from you, and my suggestions to help you do the best possible job while helping the company, and learning and having fun.

In the office you will be working very closely with Naseem, our accountant and office manager.  Most of your work with Naseem will consist of scanning invoices and receipts, filing, copying, and working on the computer using QuickBooks, Word and Excel.  It’s helpful if you have prior experience with Excel, but Naseem is good at teaching what needs to be done.  Invoice and receipt scanning can cause some problems, because it can be quite tedious.  You will be using QuickBooks to search for items that match prices and dates from the invoices and receipts, and then scanning each to attach to the proper item.  It’s tedious because sometimes it’s hard to match each one up, but this task is important because it’s necessary to have every purchase the company has made supported with the proper documentation in the company accounting system.  Some other office tasks I have performed include answering phone calls, mailing and shipping packages, and some light cleaning.

Also in the office you will help organize media clips that are tracked online.  Currently I am working with a service called Magnolia Clipping and Broadcast Monitoring Service.  Magnolia tracks media clips (print and TV coverage) of companies throughout the country.  We have some sort of subscription with Magnolia, and I have been working with their online service to filter out the relevant and irrelevant information regarding our company.  There are thousands of media clips that have key words such as firefighter, combat, challenge, or Scott Firefighter Challenge.  “Scott” is our title sponsor . . . more about them in my next letter to you.  We need to filter this information to determine the impact of our online presence so we can have accurate reports to give to Scott and other current and potential sponsors. 

Now I will talk about the exciting part of the internship . . . traveling.  You will be traveling to various parts of the country to work at the actual competition where firefighters compete against each other in an obstacle course geared to firefighting.  But slow your roll young intern, this event isn’t as glamourous as it sounds.  Its hard work and long days.  I’m told each Challenge has different logistics and itineraries, so I will discuss my first and only experience that I’ve had so far last weekend in Tyler, Texas. 

I woke up at 4 am after watching the first game of the NBA Finals the night before.  Big mistake, the game went into overtime so I was up until midnight.  I my team lost.  I met Dr. Davis at the office in Burtonsville at 5 am and he drove us to BWI airport.  I was excited and nervous at the same time because this was my first time flying (Yes, can you believe it, I just turned 22 and this is my first time flying).  Anyway, we took off from BWI at 7 am and flew to Dallas.  Then after a couple hour layover, we took a commuter flight into Tyler and landed around 1 pm Texas time, 2 pm Maryland time.  Even though I didn’t get much sleep the night before, I didn’t sleep on either of the flights. 

When we arrived at the Challenge, I was very surprised to see the Challenge course already set up and pretty much ready to go.  Our road crew is very impressive.  Really, I was very surprised, pleasantly surprised.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  I thought we were going to help set everything up, but instead the guys from Maryland just helped with the final touches of the setup of the course.  Then I had various tasks throughout the event, including issuing boots to the competitors in exchange for their driver’s license as collateral, then exchanging them back after their race was completed, and numbering the Air Packs used in the competition.  During the competition, I took pictures with Dr. Davis’ Sony camera, picking up trash, helping out wherever else I could throughout the event.  Mostly I asked questions and observed because this was my first Challenge.  After the event, I was starving, so I was thrilled that we ate dinner at Outback Steakhouse.  We returned to the hotel about 10 pm Texas time.  Long day, great day . . .  I went to sleep immediately.

The next day we woke up around 7 am and we were at the event at 8:30 to set up for day 2 of the event.  Pretty much the same thing, exchanging boots with the competitors, number Air Packs, taking pictures.  After the event was over, following the road crews lead, the cleanup took about two hours and required heavy lifting and organizing.  I organized and put away the merchandise in one of our trucks.  I also helped the crew put away the giant tower that the competitors used in the course.  Once all of that was done, we drove to the airport, took the commuter flight back to Dallas, and then the main flight back home.  We landed at BWI around 12:30 am.  Home, sweet home!

For the office work I don’t have a lot of advice, it’s pretty self-explanatory you just go in and learn the job, it’s general office work you will get the hang of it.  For someone who has never worked in an office before, this experience is a great learning opportunity.  A few basics when traveling: 1) make sure you are well rested before you head out.  Long days are ahead of you. 2) Bring and use sunscreen.  Tyler, Texas is basically a desert and it’s close to 100 degrees. 3) Learn how to use a high tech camera before you go on the trip and look at some of the previously taken pictures beforehand to get a feel for what is expected.

Working here is a very valuable, because you are getting a white collar and a blue collar experience.  I’m told most entry level jobs will have both white and blue collar work, so I’m diligently working hard and trying to absorb and learn as much as possible.  Yesterday I participated in a staff meeting for the first time.  I took pretty good notes and I look forward to working on the items discussed.  Pretty cool stuff.  I look forward to telling you about my second month here.  Until next time!

Andrew