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Honorary Dean Allison exit letter from Sophie Martinez

Posted on January 22, 2021


Sophie Martinez

While I was not fortunate to have known Mr. Allison, I had heard of what he meant to the City as the Public Works Director. Enthusiastic. Dedicated. Dean Allison built strong relationships and cared immensely for both his employees and the public. Having the opportunity to learn about Public Works under his name as the Dean Allison Intern was an honor and I hope that I have represented him well during my time with the City.

Initially, I felt a lot of pressure taking on this internship; I’d heard of Mr. Allison’s reputation and how well the previous intern, Thomas Wong, did in the role. As a full-time student and student athlete, I have never had a regular job. My lifeguarding and waitressing jobs all worked around school and competition schedules. Beginning this internship, where regular office hours were required, I had a lot of difficulty juggling work with school. Public Works at 7am, work until 1pm, drive to Santa Rosa Junior College by 2pm (eat lunch in the car, of course), and classes until 8pm. Finally, I would return home at 9pm for dinner and homework.  It was a grueling cycle but getting to know the people in the office helped greatly in adjusting to my new schedule.

Slowly, I was getting the hang of my duties and the workflow of the office. I was introduced to AutoCAD, learned about the projects Public Works was working on during the weekly meetings, and learned more about the city through my assignments. I was even exposed to small things around the office I had never experienced in my previous, fast-paced service jobs. As silly as they sound: coordinating with different departments over email, collecting quotes or references over the phone, and going out to lunch with my co-workers. I’d developed a steady routine, and all trotted along well until COVID. Needless to say, it was so disappointing to work from home.

But whether home or out and about, my assignments were always varied and interesting. My pride and joy was  my first project,  installing new bike racks in downtown San   Rafael. I measured spots along 4th St, and it was so satisfying to see something I mapped out in AutoCAD come to fruition and be used by bikers. I learned about street resurfacing, all the necessary codes for something as simple as adding a crosswalk, and countless other services the Public Works Department provided that I used every day but never appreciated how they had come together. I designed and secured signs to notify the public about signal changes or events like Dining Under the Lights. I watched presentations on traffic improvements in other cities and counted cars passing through an intersection. Again, all things I had never realized were part of Public Works, but I was nonetheless happy to participate in. Unfortunately, as the lowly intern, I was also given the least interesting job: overseeing the replacement of lightbulbs in downtown San Rafael. Because of COVID, restaurants were closed and, with no outdoor seating to watch the workers safely, I had to sit in my car in 90-degree summer heat until 5pm. A nice change-of-pace project was the video for the Canal Wi-Fi Project. Since I am a film student and enthusiast, I was asked to help storyboard a short video on the project and assist in filming. I was ecstatic to receive the opportunity and really enjoyed the socially distanced shoot.

I have gained a great deal with this internship. I learned negotiation skills, organization skills, time management, how to set priorities, how to conduct meetings, and how to interact with co-workers, superiors, and contractors. I am grateful for the stipend that has afforded me to continue my engineering studies at UC Davis. I am also immeasurably thankful for the people at DPW that welcomed me, a community college student with no office experience, and supported me through my work-school balance. Thank you to my amazing supervisor, Lauren, who never complained at my endless questions and mentored me in person and virtually, and my co-workers, Willie, Dylan, Cindy, JC, and Jason who chatted with me, offered help whenever I needed it, ate lunch with me, and encouraged me every day. I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity!

Very Sincerely,
Sophie Martinez

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