By Margaret MasonAugust 1, 2014
The faces are looking younger and younger at Redstone Test Center as summer interns dip their toes in the professional world. Thankfully, these interns aren't going into corporate America completely clueless as more than 20 summer hires gathered together for professional development training this month.
On a regular day, these summer interns are dispersed throughout RTC gaining what for many of them is their first real work experience. Assisting with tests, collecting data and even perfecting their own "work" signature block, throughout the summer the interns daily learn how to apply concepts learned in school and function as a member of the workforce. While this hands on experience is priceless, it is also important to instill professionalism in the workplace through professional development training.
The morning kicked off with a brief U.S. Army video presented by Col. Patrick Mason, commander of RTC, filling the room with endless explosions and high energy music as footage showed Soldiers undergoing the operations of war. Col. Mason then used this video to tie in the importance of what is done here at RTC. Painting the big picture for the summer interns, Col. Mason described the critical role RTC has in producing reliable and well-tested supplies to equip the Warfighter.
Mason went on to share his experiences in his first internship at Georgia Tech Research Institute during his college years. In the first weeks at GTRI, he revealed he often found himself bored and underutilized. This boredom, however, ended when he began pursuing opportunities within GTRI on his own accord. Through this anecdote, he passed on a very important lesson: "Opportunity is what you find for yourself." Interns were encouraged to ask questions, engage themselves as much as possible and not be afraid to seek more opportunity.
Before playing another fantastically explosive RTC video, the Colonel stressed the importance of each and every member of RTC -- Soldiers, civilians, contractors and even summer interns -- embracing and exercising the Army Values. In order to have a successful team, everyone must practice the Army Values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. He also encouraged interns to take these values on in every aspect of their life, even after their time at RTC and Redstone Arsenal is up.
After learning these important values in any work environment, interns were instructed on what we all wish someone had sat down with us to perfect: crafting your resume. Along with learning how to write a proper and impressive resume, interns learned the dos and don'ts of the professional world. With this instruction from Mitzi Morris, RTC recruitment specialist, the young summer hires learned how to present themselves to the adult world.
And the training didn't stop there…
Closing out the day, John Sparkman, project pilot and division operations officer for the Aviation Flight Test Directorate's Attack Division, led a workshop on briefings and public speaking in the workplace. Wildly experienced, during his 26 years on active duty this now retired CW5 briefed numerous VIPs including the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army. Emphasizing the importance of preparation, rehearsal, application and confidence, Sparkman introduced interns to the world of professional presentations.
Following this instruction, interns drew names and topics out of a hat and had to give impromptu improvisational presentations on topics ranging from, "Pretend this is your farewell speech as you move to a new job" to "Describe a sport to the audience as if they know nothing about it." As horrifying as this may sound to most of us, the students flawlessly whipped up soliloquies utilizing some of the techniques they just learned and earning impressed chuckles from the instructors.
After a long day of training, the interns walked away confident in their ability to navigate the professional world. From resumes to public speaking to seeking opportunity, the speakers wrapped everything you need to know in a nice six hour package. Combined with their experiences out in the divisions and working at the test stands, the summer has provided exactly what many of the interns claimed to be after: their first real world, professional experience. So interns, make sure you add that to your resume!
RTC, a subordinate command of the Army Test and Evaluation Command, provides technical expertise, state-of-the-art facilities, and capabilities to plan, conduct, analyze, and report the results of tests on missile and aviation systems, sensors, subsystems and components.