Remote Access: My Summer at ASC

Nora & Alec

Let me begin this post by explaining the unique situation I was in to land this internship.

Last semester, I was in Milan, Italy, studying marketing and communications at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Awesome school. Great city. Drop what you’re doing and attend for a semester or two. I promise it’s worth it). Anyway, while abroad, I was on the hunt for a summer internship back home, which was not an easy task because most U.S. employers were not interested in the hassle of communicating with a potential intern across the Atlantic. A family friend tipped me off that ASC offers paid internships for college students and, being a past intern, he spoke very highly of the company, so I decided to shoot them an email along with my resume and cover letter. I anxiously awaited a reply and was thrilled when, few days later, I got a response from Nora, who was more than willing to accommodate an international phone interview.

After purchasing Skype minutes for the interview I was feeling confident and prepared for my 7:30 PM (1:30 PM in the States) phone call. 7:30 PM rolled around and, as luck would have it, my phone decided it would not be making any outbound calls at the time. You can imagine the panic I felt. Frantic, I scrambled to find my roommate and borrow his phone. Twelve minutes late, I finally got in contact with Nora. I like to think the interview went well despite the delay, because about a week later, I got an email with an offer for a full-time summer internship with ASC. I was ecstatic and gladly accepted.

I learned later that ASC was in the midst of relocating from their office in Pawling, NY, to White Plains. I was excited to hear this and was looking forward to finally meeting Nora and the rest of the team. On my first day, I walked into the office to a look of shock from Nora because she was amazed by how tall I was! (By phone or in person, I’m 6 foot 3 inches tall.)

From day one, I could tell that this was going to be a very valuable internship to have under my belt. Not having any previous experience in Federal and State agency work made it difficult at first to understand how the business was run (not to mention the plethora of acronyms that are impossible to remember and keep track of). After a week or two of immersion into the business, Allie, Associate Project Manager and Commissioner of Games (see below), really helped me  learn the ropes and got me working on very relevant projects and assignments. (Thanks Allie!) I learned a lot about public awareness and public outreach and some of the secrets of ASC’s success. Here’s one: The devil is in the details. We proofread everything like crazy around here.

Interning for ASC this summer has truly been rewarding. The team has been extremely helpful and considerate to a newbie like me, and I really felt as if I was part of the team. I just want to give a huge shout out to Nora and the entire ASC team for welcoming me into their crazy world of public relations and strategic communications in their new White Plains office. It has truly been a pleasure.

Oh, and a tip for any potential new hires within ASC—make sure you brush up on your Pictionary and word games for lunch/game day every Thursday. They can be very competitive, so come with your A-game.

Alec Iacovelli is a senior at Western Connecticut State University, where he is majoring in Marketing.

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The Holy Grail of Commuter Benefits: 5 Tips to Make Teleworking Work for You

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ASC client, Commuter Connections, sponsors Car Free Day each year on September 22 in the metropolitan Washington region to encourage drive-alone commuters to try another way, here’s a take on telecommuting:

In the world of commuter benefits programs, telecommuting is a potential rock star for improving air quality, reducing traffic congestion, decreasing commute-related employee stress, and improving work/life balance. It sounds like a sure winner, but for employees and employers alike, the challenges of teleworking often make it at best a hard sell, and often a non-starter.

ASC helps transportation agencies promote teleworking—and its cousin, telecommuting—as part of emissions reduction initiatives, but it’s only in the last couple years that we walked the walk and implemented teleworking for our own employees. Below are a few tips for fellow teleworkers on how to make working remotely a win-win for you and your employer.

Here’s what I’ve learned in two years of teleworking:

1 – Walk away from your computer! With no coffee pot to gather round, I often find myself at my desk for hours at a time with no break.  I’ve learned to force a stop—it makes me happier, and more productive. Get a drink, let the dog out, and take a real lunch break.

2 – Call your office, even if it’s just to say hi. I can guarantee you they haven’t forgotten about you but hearing their voices and finding out what is going on, work-wise or personally, goes a long way in bridging you from the island to the main land.

3 – Get dressed. Don’t wear your pajamas to “work.” While I don’t wear my dress clothes and high heels, I do put on something nice, including make-up, and I do my hair. I feel professional and ready to start the day, even if I’m walking to my table or desk to log on.

4 – Appreciate your company’s victories from afar and come to terms with not being there to participate. It is not a slight, even if it’s your project they are celebrating. Working from home is a luxury and missing out on the action is the trade-off. Send your co-workers off with a happy email.

5 – Keep your “work” category out of your “life” category. You can become stressed quickly with access to emails and company servers at your fingertips. So proceed with caution, remain cognizant of your own schedule and remember to enjoy your life outside the house.

With smartphones, laptops, and VPNs, an office can be anywhere. Mine is in my home. Why? Because I work for a company that learned the lessons from the commuter benefits programs it promotes year after year, appreciates its team, and looks ahead to what’s next, and says, “I’ve got this!”

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