Posted by Morgan Peroulas

Final Portfolio

It’s officially my last day at Roanoke County Fire & Rescue, and to say this summer has flown by would be an understatement. I have loved every minute of my time here and am going to miss coming to work each day. The people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had will no doubt help me throughout the rest of my time at Longwood and will carry through to my future career.

During my time here, I have been able to work with some of the kindest, most amazing people I’ve ever met. The two people I worked with the most were Brian Clingenpeel and Jennifer Sexton. They have served as my biggest mentors this summer, and I have learned so much from them. In the office, Jennifer has helped me make marketing materials for water and summer safety that we’ve been able to post on social media, and she has given me the freedom to write news and press releases for the department. With Brian, I was able to go to public education events with kids and some church groups to see how the fire department interacts with the public in different ways. I was also able to go with Brian on two different fire calls to see how he shares information with news stations when they arrive on the scene. Our biggest event of the summer was our annual Character Academy we host for middle school students where they can learn about fire safety as well as a few character fundamentals. I helped plan and execute this year’s event, and Brian and Jennifer were so helpful when it came to making sure I was brought up to speed on everything they had done in the past, and they made sure I was able to add my own spin on things in certain areas. I could not have had two better people show me the ropes and help me through this internship!

While there were certainly great moments this summer, there were some challenges as well. As with any new job, there is always an adjustment period where you’re learning the ropes and meeting everyone in the office. While it didn’t take me long to figure out how things operated around the office, I had to realize that things were not going to mesh instantly and that being comfortable there would take some time. Luckily, it didn’t take long for me to feel right at home! One of my biggest challenges after I got settled in was learning to stay busy. There were some days where I would finish a task Brian or Jennifer had asked me to do, and I wouldn’t have anything else to do for the day. Learning to fill these slower moments with productivity didn’t come easily at first, but once I found some things to do to keep my busy, such as becoming familiar with HIPPA and FOIA regulations and learning some of the history of the department, it helped me fill some of those times. The biggest challenge I faced was to not always ask for help when I came to a road block. In the past, I have always sought out extensive clarification or validation from superiors to make sure I was on the right path, but I tried to stray away from that this summer and take it upon myself to figure things out. While it wasn’t easy at first, by the end of the summer I felt much more confident in my abilities and I realized how much I had learned by relying on myself more.

In my first journal, I outlined skills such as concise writing and confidence that I wanted to improve throughout the summer. Through writing more press and news releases where my writing needed to be limited, I feel that I was able to consolidate my writing and found that it wasn’t as hard as I had initially thought. As I said above, my confidence definitely increased throughout this experience. When filling out my performance evaluation, some of the goals I set for myself were to become more familiar with HIPPA and FOIA and to become proficient in more of the programs people in the office used such as Excel and Publisher. Through making more marketing materials, I was definitely more comfortable with Publisher, and through my Character Academy preparations, I used Excel to stay organized and make sure everything was ready for the camp.

Through this experience, I’ve learned that being a PIO is definitely something I would love to do as a career. If I had to choose, I would want to do something closer to what Brian does where he is able to go out in the community and educate others while still being able to go to the scene of fires and talk to the media as well.

I would definitely recommend Roanoke County Fire & Rescue as a great place for an internship. Everyone was so friendly and willing to help me learn. I’ve been able to experience so much (and even go on a few fires!), and I know I will miss it!

Here are some examples and pictures of what I did this summer!

  • This was my first attempt at using Publisher to make a flyer we could post on our social media account. Because it was my first one, it was definitely that hardest, but I felt very accomplished after it was finished!
  •  This is a press release I helped write following a fire in June. It was a very sensitive situation and we had to be careful about what information we released and when we released it.
  • This is the news release I completed to send to local newspapers letting them know about what we did during Character Academy.
  • Below is a link to a video I made with all of the pictures from this year’s Character Academy! https://video214.com/play/BOtRPOjPY75AfZIpjmb84Q/s/dark
  • Below is a link to a local news station’s report of a fire in Vinton. I am in the video from 0:17-0:22. My five seconds of fame!  https://www.wsls.com/news/virginia/roanoke/crews-at-scene-of-vinton-house-fire
  • Brian and I after our Hollins fire! For both fires, we write the press release in his car after the fire had been put out.

    I got to do a ride-along with Captain Peroulas (AKA Dad!) this summer! We got to flow some hydrants to test the water quality and even went on an EMS call!

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