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They threw me a big party on my first day

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By Nicholas Byrne, on May 28, 2013

I began my summer internship with SAS Institute on Friday.  Though I don’t “officially” begin until Monday 5/13, Mark Wilcox, my summer supervisor, invited me to join the Corporate Security Division (CSD) (where I will be assigned this summer in an emergency management internship) to experience one of its biggest security events of the year: monitoring and helping implement the security operations plan for the annual SAS employee picnic. (I should have known better when one of the security division’s veteran employees told me that they were throwing a party just for me!) As it turns out, SAS founder Dr. Jim Goodnight throws an annual event (food, fireworks, entertainment) for the nearly 10,000 SAS employees based at the Cary headquarters. For the CSD, managing this annual event is far from a picnic and was a lesson in coordination and down to the minute planning.
The first of many briefings on the day kicked off at 0915 with an introduction to the internal processes of the department followed by an office walk-around to meet my summer colleagues, an overview of the internship job functions, and an overview of my to-do list for week 1 (starting today). Mark gave me a campus tour including: almost every facility on campus, the SAS solar farm (one of the largest private solar farms on the East Coast), and a newly constructed sales and marketing building where portions of Iron Man 3 were filmed. Before I knew it, we were off to a 1400 briefing to  prep for “stand up” and review key responsibilities for the duration of the event. Beginning at 1600, we reported to our duty stations. Fortunately, on this, the hottest day of the year, I was assigned to the Command Post (CP) (see inset)–an air-conditioned, mobile command unit contracted out from Wake County EMS with direct links to every relevant emergency management unit in the area.  In the CP, we had direct access to radio reports from the event and had the capacity to troubleshoot any incident arising during the four hour operation.
SAS Mobile
The CP: Command Post
The months-long lead up to the event included coordinating event and entertainment planning with multiple outside vendors and SAS security staff while devising a security plan to oversee day of events. Day of preparations included: handling the convergence of nearly 8,000 people onto the SAS Cary campus, monitoring everything from traffic control and gate management to potential cases of heat exhaustion and missing persons to administering band aids to kids with scrapes and bruises and ensuring no one came into contact with coyotes. All of this planned for and managed, of course, with the slim outside chance that an even larger “emergent situation” might arise . . .  or, a bad thunderstorm at the very least. Fortunately, solid preparation and planning (of which I had no direct involvement!) averted any chance of a disaster (and Mother Nature spared us, too). By the end of the evening, one of the security teams’ final checklist items — to queue the impressive ten-minute fireworks display — was completed signaling the close of another successful event.
SAS Doppler
Rain, Rain Stay Away
Some have asked why I chose to spend my summer at SAS–a privately held software company– to gain experience about public administration. My first day on the job illustrates well my interest in selecting this internship: SAS is a recognized leader in corporate security and emergency management, and undoubtedly coordinates frequently with public entities–as it did for the all-employee event. Specifically, the team coordinated with multiple law enforcement and emergency management agencies to pull off this security operation, including direct liaison activity with: Cary Police Department, State Highway Patrol, Cary Fire Department and Wake County Emergency Management Services.

The first-day experience not only gave me a look into one of the most employee- friendly, innovative, and “best of” private companies in the world, but allowed me to engage in a truly public-private coordinated operation while learning emergency management best practices from one of the best private security operations in the country. There is no doubt the learning curve, pace of work, and level of hands-on involvement will be high this summer.

I’ll keep you posted.

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