An Important Cog in the TR Machine

Amy Smerdel

Amy Smerdel takes you on the journey of an intern helping Team Rubicon tackle the largest response in TR history.

While there’s never a good time for disaster to strike, my half a year spent working at Team Rubicon fell at quite the perfect moment. A few months into my internship, I found myself right in the middle of the action of our mission-driven organization. I found myself in a battlefield of grey staring natural disasters square in the face.

On the membership team, we fought back and returned fire to each disaster with every volunteer we moved to the field. I’m comfortable comparing TR volunteers to ammunition, as I’ve met many Greyshirts who pack the punch of a grenade. The constant crossfire required calling airlines at all hours, answering any questions members directed our way, and delivering the support needed to execute our mission.

Flights were booked. Op tempo picked up. Late nights of hilarity and profanities ensued. I became a cog in the TR machine, and I found myself not only smack dab in the middle of the action, but in the midst of two major decisions.

The first decision was one Team Rubicon had to make. What should an organization do when disasters relentlessly hit communities near and far, and the need surpasses the scope of previous and perhaps current capabilities? Step up. And just like that, Team Rubicon stepped up to respond to seemingly countless disasters with tact, tenacity, and a few more of those profanities. Team Rubicon battled fires on every front, with Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Irma in Florida, and Maria in Puerto Rico, not to mention the Mexico City earthquake and California wildfires.

Being on the membership team during this organizational inflection point was an invaluable experience. We broke things, we fixed things, we got shit done, and we’re figuring out how to do it all better in the future. Change was an everyday guarantee, and TR isn’t done growing. Team Rubicon stepped up, and I’m confident our efforts made a difference in each step.

Decision number two is still in progress and left entirely to me. I’m a college senior dangerously nearing graduation and as I leave Team Rubicon, my decisions will no longer be based solely on Mother Nature’s whims or dispatch instructions to Rockport, TX.

Team Rubicon has undergone some serious changes just as I’m facing my next big change of entering the real world. Again, the timing has been impeccable – I’ve been on a team with the hardest working people I’ve ever met. That hard work comes with slight neuroticism, endless sarcasm, and a commitment to the bigger picture like you’d never believe.

As decision number two draws closer, I’m not entirely sure what is next for me. But because of the people I’ve worked with, and our tireless grammar and gif battles, I now know the type of people I need to work with and the culture I need to be a part of. I’m on the permanent hunt for a mission, and one with the tenacity of TR (which is fueled by more than just beer, despite popular misconceptions). The fierce commitment to the bigger picture I’ve experienced firsthand at Team Rubicon has inspired me, and solidified my pursuit of a career of service that extends far beyond myself.

Call it a case of fate or the perfect storm, but I couldn’t have picked a better time, or found a better team and organization. Team Rubicon made its decision and stepped up. It’s time for me to do the same as I take my first step into the real world. The hardworking badasses I call teammates and friends have made it damn hard to believe I’ll ever find a place as incredible. But at least I know what I’m looking for.

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