Back to Blog

A Story I’ll Never Grow Tired of Telling

Walking into your first ever crowded lecture hall, not knowing a single face, tripping over backpacks and feet in a narrow aisle, or worrying it’s the wrong room all together, makes your first university experience rather daunting and lonely. It’s uncomfortable for a lot of people, I’ve heard, but for me it had only been a few months since I’d witnessed the last IED explode, heard the last snapping burst over my Kevlar and only a few months since leaving a platoon of fellow Recon Marines I considered—and still do—family.

_mg_6592_1024
I enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17 and served as a reconnaissance team member for two deployments to Afghanistan.

I leaned down at my feet, pulled a notebook from a bag I once used to carry ammo and a three-day supply of water, but then pushed the notebook back in and left. It was a trial run, and I made it to the next class. On paper, I left the Marine Corps behind and chose the university life, a change I regretted for the first couple of years when I was just a dumb former Marine without a platoon. I signed out and took my DD214, but I’ve yet to actually leave the Marines, nor has it tried to escape me. Other veterans, regardless of when they served, are greeted by experiences similar to my first day in a lecture hall, and that’s why Team Rubicon exists—besides crushing disasters.

I found a summer internship that seemed nearly too in-my-face perfect, which was the Communications Support position at Team Rubicon’s National Office. Veterans can fit in anywhere, and we all know that even if we have to fake it—more often than not—but I quickly realized Team Rubicon wasn’t a place I would have to fake anything to fit in. I felt welcomed walking around TR HQ day one, as if as an intern I already had value, even after Jake shouted, “Yeah, we’ll see if you’re worth a shit!” through the open door of his office. For those who’ve served in the Marine Corps, it’s understood that’s basically a compliment.

2016-12-8_hq_hinen_3524
While attending the University of Southern California, I spent several days a week at Team Rubicon for the second half of 2016.

I took orders from Bobbi, TR’s Communications Officer and Green Bay Packers fan, which I was uneasy about, but with her guidance I was able to catch on to the many communications needs and objectives throughout all ten Regions across the country. My experience with the TR Comms crew taught me valuable techniques for managing messaging tasks and stories when hurricanes strike, and suddenly we have five simultaneous operations inbound; which is basically just, get shit done. If I were to go into detail, it might sound dull. Trust me, it wasn’t.

Not a day went by that I didn’t feel connected to the stories we told, lives we impacted and the purpose we restored to another lonely veteran’s life after their military service ended.

There’s a uniqueness in the TR communications mission, something I found inspiring every day, because it surpassed operations details, training dates, and special events. We are an organization with a story, a story beyond the brave initiative of its founders, a story of individual human compassion for no other reason than we’re all humans in need of something, and a story that continues with everyone who slips on a Greyshirt in the morning, knowing the amount of sweat it will soon soak up. Reading a member’s reflection from the latest Op, or taking notes over the phone while a homeowner joyfully names every TR member who helped muck-out their home acted as a solidifying reminder of the purpose all TR Greyshirts contribute to.

My final day serving as an intern with the communications team at the National Office.
My final day serving as an intern with the communications team at the National Office.

It’s an important story I’ll never grow tired of telling. There’s not much more I could’ve asked for in an internship, especially as a returning OEF vet facing my own challenges. I mean, our team tackled disasters and a best pumpkin contest, with a pumpkin carved beautifully in the likeness of famous guy with tiny hands, which we won. For anyone interested in a TR internship, just know that anything can come flying at you unexpectedly and you’ll need to be ready, including Nerf darts. Also, be aware the interns get the broken Nerf guns.


To view current internship openings at Team Rubicon, visit our careers page.

Patrick O'Neill

Coming from Tinley Park, IL‰ÛÓSouth Chicago but the suburbs‰ÛÓand enlisted in the Marine Corps at 17. Served as a Reconnaissance team member of 2D Recon BN, A CO on two deployments to Afghanistan. He's a creative student at the University of Southern California studying English/ Creative Writing and Advertising. Currently an intern with the awesome Team Rubicon Comms Team. Chances of bumping into Pat at an LA Brewery are high.