Works and Days

Reed Winter Externship Reflections 14: Number Five, Metro, Nick Irvin

I participated in my externships to explore career options. I chose one mentor, alumnus Lucas Carlson, class of ’05. He works at CenturyLink in the private sector. My other mentor, Jim Quinn, ’83, works at Metro in the public sector. I enjoyed both of the externships. Based on my experience, I’ve observed the private sector moves faster, for businessmen have less bureaucratic regulations. The public sector, however, seems to have a more multifaceted agenda: while the government works hard on the economy, the environment, and the public's health, a private corporation works almost only on profits. This externship helped me experience the differences between the sectors, though still remain unsure as to which sector to join for my career.

Luckily, my externship offered other insights. My IT executive mentor had me shadow him in order to learn how to communicate with people. It seems like executives spend most of their time communicating with people. He also gave me great advice. He clarified that one should communicate information through stories, as human brains are wired for listening to stories. This mentor also gave me food for thought about how important being present-minded is. He told me not to let my thoughts run my life. This externship was a great way to reflect on the current trajectory of my life, and where I would like to see it go.

At the governmental externship, I had two mentors. One of my governmental mentors, Sabrina Gogol, ’05, had a list of several of her colleagues for me to talk to. During these meeting, I learned a lot about how governmental projects work. I also made contacts in both the clean energy and the agriculture industries. Hopefully I will be able to utilize these contacts for summer work!

My second governmental mentor took me on a tour through the programs that he runs, which include a hazardous waste program and a paint recycling plant. I have never been exposed to such heavy industry, so it was fascinating to learn so much about this new world of industry. I am glad to now know more about how the government works, because I learned how ignorant I was of how much work is done for me. These programs process an incredible amount of waste. Luckily, some systems actually reuse the waste that we throw away. My mentor developed a factory that remakes disposed paint into recycled paint. This recycled paint is actually of moderate quality and it is a fraction of the price of conventional brands. I loved learning about this recycling program because it was so innovative and resourceful. 

In Portland, there are a lot of groups doing very progressive work. We are very lucky to be here. Reedies should make sure to take advantage of this opportunity to learn from such outstanding local organizations. I am very glad to have participated in these externship opportunities.


Tags: reed winter externship, recycling, sustainability, metro