Jul 12, 2021
This Episode is sponsored by Wachter.
Welcome to episode 33 of Fire Code Tech! On this episode we are speaking with Alexandra DeLucca who is a current student at the University of Maryland. We speak about Alexandra’s extensive internship experience, coursework at the University of Maryland, and much more. Tune in if you would like to hear from a student who has an immense amount of experience in professional development and how to succeed as a young professional.
How did you get started in fire and life safety?
Would you speak about your time so far at the University of Maryland?
What have been your favorite classes in your bachelor’s degree?
Would you speak about your internship experiences?
What has your experience been in research as regarding wildfires?
Where do you see your career going as of right now?
What advice would you give to individuals looking to get hired for an internship?
What do you see as trends in the industry right now?
Where do you go to learn about fire and life safety?
Hello, all welcome to the show. I'm Gus Gagliardi, and this is fire code tech on fire code tech. We interview fire protection professionals from all different careers and backgrounds in order to provide insight and a resource for those in the field. My goal is to help you become a more informed fire protection.
Professional fire code tech has interviews with engineers and researchers, fire marshals, and insurance professionals, and highlights topics like codes and standards, engineering systems, professional development, and trending topics in the industry. So if you're someone who wants to know more about fire protection or the fascinating stories of those who are in the field, you're in the right place.
Welcome to episode 32 of fire code tech. This episode is sponsored by Waner more information on Waner later on in the show. In this episode, we have Alexandra DeLuca, Alexandra talks to us about her extensive internship experience, as well as her time at the university of. We get into some very interesting topics like wildfires and what it means to become a professional and learn how to network.
If you are somebody who is looking to hone your soft skills or find out how to get an internship, I think you are really gonna enjoy this episode. Don't forget to follow us on social media. So you never miss an episode and subscribe. Oh, and one more thing. If you want to go give us a five star rating and review on iTunes, that would be a big help.
All right. Let's dive into the show. Well, hello, Alexandra. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Thank you so much for having me guys. This is a really exciting opportunity. cool. Well, I wanted to get started in traditional fashion and get a sense of how you found an interest in fire and life safety.
Yeah, so I am from Maryland. I'm from Columbia, Maryland. And when I was growing up, I always kind of excelled in my stem classes like math and sciences, and I liked them a lot in high school. So. I kind of just figured I would go into the stem field cuz that's what I was good at. That's what I like to do.
And engineering, um, was just such a huge field. I mean, it, it still is obviously, but everyone was kind of telling me to look at engineering and I did a few project lead the way courses in high school. So I was pretty familiar with it and I just decided that that's where I was gonna start at least in college.
But. Every time that I went on a college tour, like I looked at the different engineering disciplines that the colleges had, none of them necessarily stuck out to me as something that I would love. Um, I think most of the other colleges I applied to, I applied undecided or mechanical just cuz that's so broad.
But then I went on a tour of Maryland and that's my state school. So it would, would've been like a really good like deal, like, um, instate situation stuff. And I would've been close to. And I went on a tour of university of Maryland. I went to their, uh, engineering department and they were giving a presentation on all the different disciplines.
And I remember going up to the table and it was all the classic ones, like chemical mechanical and civil, but then they had one flyer that had a bunch of flames on it. So I was kind of like, oh, this is different. I've never seen it before. And I picked it up and I started reading about fire protection engineering.
I was like, wow, that sounds really cool. And, um, they did the poll presentation on fire protection. And then I think it was Dr. Milky that I went up and talked to and I was asking questions and him and Nicole Hollywood, I had like met them a bunch of times before going, deciding fire protection, but they were super, super supportive and like, they did a great job.
Showing off the department and kind of explaining how all the different opportunities that fire protection gives you and how it's a really small community. And they like showed me the fire tornado and it was really, really cool. So after just getting excited for like the first time about. What I could be doing in college.
I decided to go in and apply to university of Maryland fire protection engineering. Um, and I got in and I started off with that and I never really looked back. Like it's been a really great experience entire time. Wow. That's awesome. Yeah. I have a similar experience, uh, kind of with the general inclination towards a stem degree, and then falling into a, you know, a great program.
Fire and life safety. That's so awesome that you got a chance to, um, get involved with the, a program that is renowned, uh, really all over the world for fire protection engineering. And, and it was in your home state. I mean, that's about as good as it gets really, but that's awesome. Yeah. I got super lucky.
I was really happy about it. That's great. Yeah. So I totally resonate like that. You kind of know that you like doing math and science stuff and you're like, whoa, what is this fire protection thing with such promise and, and interesting things going on, but that's great. I love that exposition. Thank you.
Uh, every time I get, uh, you know, the opportunity to speak with somebody who has an experience with like a different educational program within fire protection, life safety, cuz there's so few that actually. Are out there, you know, there might be a half dozen across the nation and you know, those vary from technology degrees to engineering degrees and there's, uh, even fewer master's programs out there.
I like to try to get some insight about, you know, what's going on at these schools so that people can hear about 'em. Um, yeah, I just wanted to ask, uh, if you would give some. High level overview of kind of your coursework and, um, what you've enjoyed so far about your time at Maryland. Yeah, of course. So going in as a freshman, you don't do a whole lot of fire protection.
Um, like any other college, it's a lot of gen ed and you take your basic stem, weed out classes, like the math and the physics and chemistry, stuff like that. But you do take a one credit course with Dr. Milky. And, um, he kind of just teaches you like about what is fire protection at university of Maryland.
And this course is super great, cuz it's offered to people who aren't already in fire protection. So. People. And like on the side in the engineering school can take the course if they find it interesting. And then, um, if they really like the course, then they'll switch into fire protection. So I think this class is really good for recruiting people into the program.
And then when you get into your sophomore year, it's kind of the same thing. You take a lot more. General engineering classes like Thermo and mechanics, stuff like that. But you start off with one class, um, your first semester, sophomore year, that's on life safety and it's with Ken Isman and he kind of just takes you through NFPA 1 0 1.
And again is like introducing you to the NFPA, um, codes and stuff. So I think that was really helpful for going into my internship after that. And then once you get into your junior and senior year, it's all fire protection classes. So, so far as a rising senior I've taken classes that have gone to depth teaching on fire alarms, smoke control, uh, sprinklers, life safety.
And in a lot of those classes, it's dissecting the NFPA codes and getting really familiar with NFPA 13 and 72 and 1 0 1. So I think those are super helpful for the students when they're transitioning from the school, from like education to the workplace. And they're actually going to be using the NFPA codes.
It's just super helpful that like you're so familiar with them and you've looked through them like cover to cover. and then there's other classes like I've taken heat and mass transfer in fluid mechanics, and next semester I'm taking fluid dynamics. So it's kind of those classes that are like theoretical stuff.
So not as much what you're gonna use in the workplace, but kind of the background behind all of it. Yeah, that's great. It's uh, it sounds like you already have a pretty good perspective for, uh, the courses and how they'll apply to what you wanna do. Um, it's interesting. Yeah, we just, we just got our, uh, our first fire protection intern at the company that I work with, uh, this just yesterday.
So we'll date the episode, but. Yeah. And so I think it's interesting hearing you speak about how you, you know, kind of learn to apply the NFPA codes and standards and how that's a big part of the curriculum. I just wonder, um, at the degree program at Maryland, cuz I, I had this, uh, sense about my time at O.
Did it was a little bit more NFPA focused in like the, the international building code and mechanical code and, um, fire code. I mean, we did talk about 'em, but, but not, uh, nearly as much as like, uh, 1372 and 1 0 1. Um, what's your sense of that at the university of Maryland? Is that a, a similar thing or is it different in your experience?
No, we we've really mostly only focused on the FPA codes. I know we did a little bit of the international business code in my life safety class, but, um, definitely not as much as we did 1 0 1 and that's kind of what I found in the workplace is a lot of it is the FPA codes too. So I think it's helpful.
For sure. Yeah. You definitely need that rock solid basis in the, in FPA codes. Um, yeah, but I, I spend a lot of time in, uh, the international codes just due to the, um, the FPE design work that I'm in. I think it's great to have that basis, but yeah, I appreciate that. Uh, That insight. But, um, so you talked about a couple of your classes, but, um, so far, what have you enjoyed the most about, about school?
Like, what's kind of been your, you know, I'm sure there's a lot of classes you really enjoyed, but which one has really piqued your interest the most? Um, I really liked my human response to fire class. It, I think I liked it mostly because of the project that we did. um, the project that we did was we were given a building or a, a dormitory on campus.
So it was a building that most of the students were familiar with. And a lot of them had actually lived in and we had to find the egress time for the whole building at full capacity to evacuate. And we did that through Pathfinder. So we had learned a lot about Pathfinder in that class and used a lot.
And for the project, it was just really cool because the prompt said stuff like. Students in this study lounge are wearing soundproof headphones. So, you know, you kind of had to add like extra time to them, according to that. And, you know, there were like certain like, uh, rooms that were, uh, handicapped. So it was like people in these rooms had, were in wheelchairs.
So there was Pathfinder settings that you could change it to that. And I'd never worked with Pathfinder before, but I think it was really cool cuz it was just such a realistic situation that the students could relate to. And also. The Pathfinder program. I just, I really liked watching, like even the simulation when you run it, it shows the actual people walking down the building and it was really cool.
And then that's awesome. Oh, sorry, go ahead. Oh, I was just gonna say for, um, nonengineering classes, I've taken a few special education classes, uh, through gen EDS. And I think outside of engineering, those classes are just super interesting to. Sorry, you said special education classes. Like what, yeah. What, what does that mean?
Kinda, I don't think I understand. Um, it's learning about kind of different disabilities and like just being educated on like the history of disability and stuff like that. Um, it is just so different from my engineering classes and something that like, I would've never taken in high school or anything.
So I don't know. It's really cool to learn about. Okay. Yeah, that's awesome. Well, I can see the direct overlap from your experience with Pathfinder and your interest in, um, learning how to make, uh, make things more accessible for those who have disabilities. Um, that's awesome. That's cool to hear about, uh, performance based design is something that's so neat and I have a big interest in it.
I don't get a chance to do much work involving, um, using. Performance based design in regards to egress systems for buildings. But yeah, I really have a big interest in that when I was in school, we did this, uh, my teacher was doing some research. I would think it was in our life safety class. And he had, he gave us all the same set of instructions or he would like change 'em a little bit with Cardinal directions and have us try to egress out through the.
To try and test, you know, like the effectiveness of a voice system and we all kind of did different things. It was funny to see how the students all kind of reacted, uh, differently during the, the lab. Yeah, that sounds really cool. But, um, yeah, I wanted to, uh, move on and speak a little bit more about your college career and just, uh, yeah, I didn't know if you are involved with any, uh, professional societies or organizations at school.
I'm sure that the university of Maryland has some, uh, great groups to get involved with. Yeah. University of Maryland has a bunch. Um, for me personally, I'm involved in theta TA, which is. A professional co-ed engineering fraternity. So it's a really good mix of, um, a social aspect of being able to meet other people who are engineers and you can hang out with them and do stuff, but also.
Just the having like 90 engineers of multiple different disciplines. Plus all the alumni is such an amazing networking opportunity. Like I know people in the fraternity that have reached out to the alumni and gotten jobs at Google and SpaceX, and it's just really cool that it's a very casual way of networking.
Um, but also it's really fun. Just, you know, you have like normal events like barbecues and stuff like that. So I would definitely recommend theta taught anyone. Who's interested engineering at university of Maryland. Um, I'm also involved with Clark school ambassadors and kind of what I talked about in the beginning of why I got involved in fire protection is I went to a presentation from Clark school ambassadors.
So they had people there speaking about each discipline and that kind of got me wanting to join it so that I could. Promote fire protection. And while it's like, I'm still an ambassador for the entire Clark school. Um, since there's not many fire protection engineers, I really like to kind of promote that when I'm doing the presentation, say I'm fire protection.
Like these are all the opportunities and educate people about the department. Cuz a lot of people don't know about. Yeah, that's so great. I think that, uh, people in, in all levels of the industry are trying to find ways to connect with the next generation of fire protection engineers. So I think that's awesome that you are, um, taking the opportunity to get out there and spread the word about this great field.
It sounds like you have already had so much great opportunity, um, in regards to, to working in this space. So I love hearing that. Thank you. Yeah. I'm very thankful for the opportunities that I've gone through fire protection. And, um, yeah, I like that note also about networking and how it's so important to join professional societies because of the invaluable connections and the just fun experiences you can have.
I, uh, I was involved with some groups, but I, I wish I would've done more when I was at school. So that's a great point for people to hear. But, um, yeah, I wanted to kinda move forward and, and talk, uh, about your internship experience. You've had some wonderful internships so far. Would you speak a little bit on the, uh, the different jobs you've held so far at ATS your time at, uh, during your time at the university of.
Yeah, of course. So after my freshman year, I interned at wedding Turner, which is a huge general contracting company. Um, they're nationwide. And so this internship was definitely more, it wasn't fire protection. It was definitely more like general engineering. Um, a lot of the other interns there were mechanical or civil.
But since I was fire projection, I kind of thought it was a really cool opportunity to just be introduced to the built environment. And, um, so for the first half of it, I spent it, um, in the office and I was planning. I was helping plan for another project that they were doing in the future. So I was doing the bid calls and.
I would call up the different subcontractors and I would kind of tell them about the project that we were doing. And just through that, I gained such good speaking skills, like over the phone. Cause I'd never really done cold calls like that before. And then also we were working a lot with the budgeting for the new project.
So it was really just cool to see like what went into a project before it even gets put on the ground. . And then, um, the second half of the internship, I was on a construction site and I was kind of just making sure that everything was running smoothly and I would like go down and I was assigned to, you know, the painting and the insulation subcontractors.
So I would keep going down and checking their progress to make sure that they're completing what they need to do for the day and staying on schedule. And that was also just really cool to see, you know, the project being put together and like how much can like actually go wrong in construction and how everybody can fix it and like work on their feet.
Um, so I think that was the, as a first internship, it was perfect, cuz it really introduced me to general engineering, the built environment. And then after my, um, so my second semester, sophomore year, I ended up getting a co-op at Walt Disney world. So I wasn't in school for that semester. Um, and I went down to Florida and I got to work with the fire protection team, and that was my first real fire protection experience.
So it was a lot of, I was introduced to Revit and AutoCAD and, um, I'd never worked with them before, so I was kind of just figuring it out, but I was doing a lot. Design planning and like kinda making the drawings like up to date. So I would have to like go into a building and like, if stuff was changed around, I'd like go market and come back and change it.
And then, um, A lot of, it was also, I was doing, uh, smoke testing work. You would go in, and it kind of taught me like about the fire alarms and the smoke detectors and like how you do all the testing and stuff for that, which I found to be really cool. And then I also learned a little bit about fire dynamics through the internship, which I'm not even taking that class until next semester, but I think just being in the workplace and being surrounded by fire protection kind.
Elevates you like even more and like it's learning on the job. So it was super, super helpful and just such a cool opportunity to be, um, working for Walt Disney world, which had always been a dream company of mine. It was also one of the reasons why I joined fire protection, cuz I knew that it was huge at Disney and um, yeah, their internship program.
Absolutely incredible. Um, they have like 300 just engineering interns, uh, working together. It was really, really cool. And wow. So that the semester that I did that was, um, when COVID hit. So unfortunately we all, we didn't finish our internships. Um, and I went home around, uh, April May-ish. But, um, there was a posting for another project management, uh, internship that was locally in Maryland.
So I applied for it and it was for Doyle construction company. So I went back and I was doing a little bit more with them on, uh, I was doing more project management, construction work, um, and it was cool doing it a second time around cuz I felt like I had a lot more responsibilities. And the project that I was doing was like, just starting.
So again, it was like a lot of the planning and like making the schedule for. I can't believe you got some great experience, like getting a general sense of, uh, you know, how the construction process works, getting the opportunity to work with some general contractors and then also getting to work with some fire protection engineers and see some inspecting testing and maintenance and some fire dynamics as well.
It sounds like that's all great experience. Yeah. They're really awesome experiences. And, um, this summer I'm gonna do something a little bit more similar to what I did at Disney. It's a fire protection internship for Arab, um, and they're a international company, so they have locations all over the globe, which I found to be really, really cool.
Um, so I'm gonna be working specifically with their Boston office, um, and I'm really excited for that. That's gonna be great. Yeah. We were talking a little bit off air about, um, your next role and, and how you're excited to, uh, get into the, to the BIM and the modeling and rev it a little bit more. That's that's great.
I think you're gonna really enjoy it. I do a lot of BIM work at the company I work for now, and I, I have a lot of fun with it and it's great. Cuz uh, every day is a, a different challenge. But yeah, I wanted to, uh, talk a little bit about, and, um, you could share whatever you would like about, uh, your research that you've been involved with.
Would you speak a little bit about, because I always hear about, um, wildfires and you know, how we're trying to learn. Fires in nature and, and, uh, really kind of closed a gap on this, um, natural phenomenon, but it's, uh, kind of outside of my wheelhouse as far as, uh, um, like what I do on a day to day basis.
So I saw that you had some experience with that. I didn't know if you would like to. Want to take a moment to talk about our sponsor today. Ter Waner is a family owned business to provide services in many commercial and industrial market sectors, including electrical and fire alarm systems, the internet of things, digital transformation, and much, much more LTER is headquartered out of Lenexa, Kansas, but is decentralized in that.
Technicians across the nation. They're looking for good candidates for fire alarm technicians in a variety of locations across the us. You can find out the details of these jobs and much more about Waner on waner.com/careers. That's w a C HT E r.com/careers. Let's get back to the show. Yeah, of course. Um, I was in the same boat.
I had never really learned anything about wildfires, uh, either in my classes or like, I didn't know that much outside of, um, my research, but, uh, I started doing this research project with Dr. Milky and the research that we did was on occupant evacuation behavior and wild land fires. So we focused on people who lived in wildland, urban interface area.
and originally, uh, we wanted to create a timeline kind of, of how long it takes the average person to go through the pre movement steps of evacuating once they hear the fire signal. Um, but we learned as we started, uh, gathering information that there's really not much information on the actual timing.
Um, So what we kind of focused more on through the research was we were gathering data from existing articles and we were interviewing different people like professionals, um, in the field. And people have also done research on that and we kind of focused on what pre movement actions people actually took.
And cuz you know, when like there, when you get the signal that there's like, you need to evacuate. There's so much going through your mind, like there's a fire and it's, you know, it can like take down your house, your whole livelihood, like people who own farms and ranches and stuff like that. So it was a lot of what goes through people's minds when they get a signal.
And also what, um, what evacuation signal works best, you know, is it like. Like a alarm or is it sending just a text message to people's phones? Like what is the most effective in getting people to evacuate? And, um, what we kind of learned about this is like, well, what I learned, cuz I don't live in an area with a lot of wildfires.
Um, and like, so if I, if there was a wildfire, like I would absolutely evacuate, but I learned through this research that a lot of people want to stay and defend their property. Either because, you know, they don't wanna lose their house or they have animals there. Like they have a farm or they have crops.
So the people who do wanna stand, defend their property, what can they do to make it safer for them? Like how can they set up their land or what resources can they get that would make it a better situation for them to be able to like, fight this fire. Wow. Yeah. I don't have much experience either. I feel like I would wanna, even as much as I know about fire, I think I'd be pretty, uh, pretty driven to want to protect my home.
And this thing has all of my, uh, things that are important to me and like, uh, such a huge investment of, uh, A huge piece of your net worth is probably your house and all the things inside of it. So I don't know. That's kind of an interesting, uh, thing to think about your head telling you, Hey, we probably should get outta here in your, in your heart telling you, oh my gosh.
You know, like I can only really get what you can. Shoving the car or whatever to get out, but yeah, absolutely. That's a wild scenario to talk about. So I wanted to circle back to that, uh, your time at, uh, Walt Disney, even though it sounds like you kind of, uh, had a, a wild ride, um, with the pandemic and whatnot and no pun intended, but, um, Uh, so like when you were doing this inspection testing and maintenance, like, so were you walking around, like with the, with the can of smoke on a pole and like actually applying it to smoke detectors or like, what kind of were you doing when you were, um, you know, kind of looking at, uh, smoke in the different areas and you talked about it for rides, but yeah, I'd love to hear more about that.
I think that sounds really fascinat. Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what we were doing. Um, so there, I didn't, I usually wasn't the one that was spraying it. Uh, but sometimes they would let me, which was cool. Um, but a lot of what we were doing was spraying it and then you kind of see how long it takes to go into the, um, notification and then to go into the alarm.
So they have specific times. That, um, and it was all through computer programming. So you had to time, like at what point does it go into that? It was, it was notified that there is smoke. And then at what point does it go into, okay. That was like enough that it it's an alarm and we need to like shut down.
Um, so that was a lot of the testing that we did. Interesting. Yeah. I've had the opportunity to do some of that testing myself. I have, uh, got the chance one time to get up in a boom lift and, uh, use like a can of smoke on a duct detector and aircraft hanger. So we were up like 80 feet in the air, like trying to get the test port open on.
Duct detector and, uh, try to spray it into this, uh, this detector and this unit that's, you know, super high off the ground. And the thing is swaying in the technicians. trying to move around and get a good angle to get the smoke into this, um, this port. And so, yeah, it was really cool. Yeah. Another thing we also did testing for, um, the wiring of the pole stations and the fire alarm.
So you'd kind of go around and you would do the poll station and then you'd have a walkie-talkie and someone I would be like, okay, that was number this. And then you'd be like, yes, that was the right number. Or like, no, that's the wrong number. Oh, I got you. So your tests, the poll stations and check in the ID on the pool station, in the mm-hmm programming for the fire alarm panel.
Yeah. So it was cool to kinda learn. I was gonna say, it's cool to kind of learn about the fire alarm panel. Cause I'd never like gone experience with one man. Uh, the more experience I get as a, as a FPE, like the water and the sprinkler systems makes a lot of sense to me. But, uh, the thing that I get more confused about on a daily basis is, uh, fire alarm systems and how complex that they can get, uh, in the proprietary, uh, you know, programming for each of these systems.
It, it seems like, uh, there's so much depth there. I feel what you're saying about learning about 'em is, is cool. Yeah. But, um, so. I wanted to, you know, talk a little bit about, uh, your career and, and kind of where you see yourself going. It seems like you already have, uh, so much perspective and drive for somebody who is so early in their career.
Um, I wanted to ask, uh, like kind of, where do you see yourself going? I know it's hard to say. Sounds like you're gonna get, um, your first, like, Full on, uh, hopefully no more pandemic all summer, like fire protection, engineering, design, uh, internship this summer, but yeah. Where do you kinda, where do you see yourself leaning towards as far as, uh, a career at this point?
I think at this point, I'd probably see myself going into the built environment. Um, you know, the research I did with wildfires, I thought that was really cool and different. , but I definitely see myself in more of a construction based role. I think that's what I find be the most fun and interesting. Um, through my internships, I realize that I find design work and like rev AutoCAD to be pretty rewarding.
And I, and enjoyable. I really like doing that, but also through like my project management, construction internships, I know that I love being on site. I don't really like being at a desk 24 7. I like to get up and walk around and see what's happening. So I think hopefully, um, in like my career that I go into, I'm hoping to have a role where, you know, it's like 50 50 where I'm doing the design work for.
Different like fire suppression systems, but also I'm able to go out onto the site and look and do inspections or testing, stuff like that. Um, as far as like what company or what location, I have no idea. That's something that I'm still trying to figure out. And I, I don't. Sure. Yeah. Yeah. You don't have to have it figured out.
And you know what? I had a college, I, uh, had a job for a fire suppression contractor for a while doing design before I switched to about a year in, I switched to working for an architecture and engineering firm. And, um, so you don't have to, it's just your first role in the industry. And if you find out, Hey, I, I think I want to spend some.
Time on the construction side and, and work closer to the, you know, the, the actual building part of the process. You'll have the opportunity to, but also I'm sure you could find that experience working for, um, a firm that does, uh, just fire protection engineering, because, you know, in one of these large states that you're talking about or large cities that you're talking about, potentially working in like a Boston or DC, you're gonna get a lot of opportunity to get on site, to, you know, see things firsthand that it.
That'll be a pretty unique environment. I kind of, uh, I don't know, that's just kind of my perspective, uh, being at middle of America, um, FPE and, you know, there's, we do work kind of all over the nation, but, uh, it's, I've always, uh, been super interested and, you know, big cities kind of do business in. their own special way.
Like, especially Boston has really unique codes and standards. Yeah. I think I've never worked like in a city before, so I'm very excited to see how. they handle like skyscrapers and stuff like that. That's just something that I've never worked with. Oh yeah. I'm sure you'll get a chance to high rise.
Construction is it's a whole different ball game than general construction for business occupancies. Um, I've had some projects recently, recently, where I've gotten the opportunity to work on Highrise construction. And so you'll get to probably work on some smoke control systems and steroid pressurization systems, you know, in addition to the, um, more common.
Sprinkler and fire alarm systems and definitely some standpipes, if you get a chance to work on some high-rise buildings and, and fire pumps, you know, and depending on how tall, you know, fire pumps at multiple levels within the building. So high rises are more challenging and more complex. And, and, uh, I think, uh, more fun probably too, but , uh, as long as things go well, but yeah, that's awesome.
I'm excited for. Me too. So you've had such, uh, great. I won't call it luck because obviously you have a wonderful ability to communi communicate and, you know, to really go out there and, um, uh, hustle to get work. So I just wanted to ask. um, what, what advice would you give to people who are looking to, you know, get internships as a, as a young professional?
You know, what would you tell people to do since you are, are, are an expert in it? You've done it like three, four times now. I think just the key to getting opportunities is networking and kind of just at every opportunity, you know, mentioned. Either that you're like fire protection or like talk about your career goals or what you wanna do, because you know, like when you're meeting new people in like the professional workplace, if you say like, oh yeah, I'm fire protection.
I really wanna go into like arts investigation. They could know someone in arts investigation. Like if you never mentioned that, then you wouldn't get the opportunity to go into that. So even I I've talked to so many people. Who have been like, oh yeah, my yoga instructor got me this job and it was super cool just because they mentioned that this is what they did.
Um, so I think just networking and putting yourself out there, uh, LinkedIn, I think is an amazing platform. Just the fact that you can look up from either, you can just even start at, you know, people who graduated from your school and especially with Maryland, there's so many fire protection graduate. So people who graduate from your school, and if you want a specific company, then you can like narrow it down to that company and people who graduate from your school.
And then those are people that you can just message on LinkedIn and reach out to. And I most people that I've done it a few times where. If I was interested in a role, I just messaged them on LinkedIn. And most people in fire protection are so nice, especially because like you said, a lot of people want the, the industry to grow and they're always looking for a new generation of people to come in and work.
So if you just kind try and like message. I don't know. I think you'll people have more luck than, than they expect. Um, especially with cold calling people. I think they're a lot more, they're a lot more likely to answer than you would think. Um, I also think it's really smart to start at a bigger company, at least in my experience.
I think, um, when, when other companies either big or small, see. Like a nationwide or like, um, international company, like wedding Turner, Disney, or Arab. Those are companies that people recognize. And they're more likely to ask you questions about it. Or even like, I know I've talked to, um, uh, consultants who have worked with like both white Turner and Disney, and then that gives you a common ground to kind of talk about.
So big companies, I definitely think are a good starting point. Um, and lastly, I would just say like, don't count yourself out, just cuz you're young. Um, cuz I know like a lot of internships will. I mean I think almost every internship, like. I know, even when I first started off as a freshman and I tried to get an internship at wedding Turner, they were like, the first person I talked to was like, oh, like we don't hire fire protection engineers.
But then I went and talked to another person. They were like, oh, that's really cool. Like that's different. And they gave me an interview. So I think just like don't necessarily take no as an answer. or like if they, if the application says you're too young, like we only hire juniors and above then if you still just apply and like, they might give you an interview and or if they, they might give you an interview, they might not hire you, but the next year, like they could hire you.
So I think just kind of go for opportunities and you'll get more than you think. Wow. You had a lot of great pearls of wisdom in that, uh, In that little, I, that sounds dramatic, but, um, being serious, like as somebody who has been to a bunch of career fairs and, and done that same work of going up to people and saying, Hey, you know, I'd like an internship, you know, I'd love to hear about your company.
And then people saying, well, you know, we don't really need sophomores or freshmen at the time. And, and you then, you know, coming back and being like, Hey, Paul, you know, I remember you from last year. I, you know, I've I had another internship in the meantime and I still am super fascinated about what you're doing, you know, and like that is a skill and, uh, something that is some people never kind of obtain that ability to be, uh, affable and, and try to make connections and be persistent.
You know, operating in, in any business capacity is, um, you have to have persistence and you have to have a drive to get things done. So people see that and people recognize that. And I think that's, uh, you know, a great piece of advice, even though I sound, I could sound corny at times being like, wow, you, you really got it going on, but now, you know, I'm serious.
People need to hear that. Um, it's important to, uh, keep putting yourself out there, you know, Absolutely. I have a. Yeah, I have a sister-in-law that's in school right now. And, um, I'm trying to being a, a code nerd and being somebody who has a big interest in professional development. I'm always trying to tell her to, you know, reach out to people on LinkedIn or, or, uh, you know, like connect with people who you think that what they do is cool.
because, uh, people want to talk about like, if they have a great job and they're passionate about, they want what they do, um, they want to tell people about it and they want to help out somebody who is early on in their career and is really trying to make something of themselves. So, yeah, absolutely. Even if like, you don't wanna message someone on LinkedIn and be like, Hey, I want an internship at your company, but because like, you don't, even if you don't even know that much about the company, but if you reach out to them and you're.
Hey, like, I think what you do is really, really cool. Can you tell me more about it then? They'll be like, yes. I would love to talk about what I love to do. Yeah, I think you need to be, uh, you need to be careful about your ask and like you said, make sure your ask is not too big that the ask of, Hey, would you mind telling me about, you know, what you do?
I think that's interesting. That's, you know, a phone call of five to 30 minutes is. Is nothing. That's a very minimal investment for anybody, you know, to, to give out. But if you come off too strong, I see this on LinkedIn, sometime from people there immediately, they have no rapport. And their immediate thing is to do, is to ask.
And, um, you wanna get a, a baseline of rapport with people and, and, uh, you know, connect to them. Like they're a human being, not an opportunity for you to get something absolutely. And you'll have a lot more success. Um, cuz I've seen it both ways. You know, I, I have to do it all the time for the podcast and, and talk to people and I, and I have people who will be like, do you want this certification that I'm selling?
Do you want it? And just blow up my inbox with five messages. I'm like, I wanna block you. That's about the other thing I want from you. But, uh, yeah, so that's great, but, um, yeah. Um, I love talking about, uh, professional development stuff. So you have to excuse me if I geek out for a minute, but no, you're totally fine.
Yeah. Seeing as you're like. In school and kind of in the thick of it, as far as like learning and, and getting an idea of, of what's going on in the field, I just wanted to pick your brain and see, like, do you see any, uh, what do you see as trends right now in the industry? And this could be broad, you know, like this could be business wise or, you know, fire protection wise, or, uh, you know, just construction involving construction, like.
Yeah, of course. Um, so I think fire protection wise, uh, there's a lot more emphasis on like, even when I was just doing the research on wildfires, almost everything resource that I was looking at was a recent resource. So I think definitely a lot more people are looking into wildfires and kind of switching over to that, which is really, really needed right now.
With everything going on. So I think that's a super good trend in the fire protection community to have that rising. Um, I think from like a general business or like engineering standpoint, people are trying to be a lot more sustainable and, you know, like practice, uh, stuff that's more environmentally friendly for when they're doing buildings.
I know. Air up the company that I'm gonna internet this summer. That's what they told me, like in the interviews, like that's what we're focusing a lot on this. Like we wanna be more sustainable and kind of like keep a, the world that we have and not make it worse. Um, which I love, I think that's super important.
I think every company should be held to standards of doing. Yeah. Yeah, that's great. I've had, uh, they're not as common as they were when I first got in the industry, but these, uh, these jobs called lead jobs, um, which is basically like, um, uh, you basically it's, uh, like a certification for your building and you check off all of these different points for like using renewable materials or like, um, making your building more sustainable.
So I've had some experience with that. Um, you can get your building certified at different, um, degrees of, um, lead, if you will. And it's, uh, so that's interesting. I D it's hard, uh, as a fire protection person, uh, I don't understand a lot of the ways that we can buy into that sustainable movement other than, you know, The materials is really the only way I know of, or maybe, uh, we could capture like the testing liquids that could be considered, you know, like if you have to do a fire pump test, you're discharging back into the fire protection, water storage tank or something like that.
You know, it's not as linear as, uh, uh, for architects, you know, have they can just make their roof out of some. The renewable that material or something and have big impact on the, the making the whole building construction more, uh, sustainable. But it's an interesting, interesting prospect for sure. And, uh, as far as wildfires, yeah.
I keep seeing a bunch about 'em in the community. It seems like it's definitely a subject that's blowing up as far as research. Yeah, absolutely. Much needed. Oh yeah. Yeah. We gotta understand it better cuz it's uh, impacts thousands of people's lives. But um, yeah, so we're getting close to the end here, but uh, I just wanted to pick your brain on, uh, Where you like to get information about fire and life safety?
Like, um, I know we've, uh, talked a little bit about your experience so far and, um, how you've managed to succeed, but, um, yeah. What, where do you like to go to, to learn about fire and life safety? Well right now, since I'm in school, um, you know, every day that like I'm going to my classes, I'm learning more and more about fire and life safety.
So just being a student is like I'm taking in so much knowledge every day. Um, and also, you know, through my internships are just talking to. Professionals in the field. If you say like you ask them any question, like, oh, like what do you do? Um, then they can like, go on and on. They'll be like, oh, like, I'd love to like read this.
And like, you should definitely, you know, if you look at like N FPA like this, then you can find, you know, whatever. So just talking to people in the field. Uh, my professors, I think the NFPA handbooks definitely super great resource for everyone. Um, and J I don't know. I think they're, once you get, uh, once you understand how to read them, then each one is like, gets a little bit more easier to read.
So I think if people use that as a resource, it's super helpful. Right now it's mostly I'm, I'm just being a student and I'm learning from my teachers and from people in my workplace that I'm working with. Yeah. I mean, I definitely resonate that. I mean, you, you gotta soak up as much as you can while you're in school.
Cuz you have these great resources at hand and, and uh, making. Relationships with your professors and, you know, having the ability to, to get to know them and, and really get some insight and perspective about their great careers is, is probably one of the most invaluable assets you have at your hands right now.
Um, and so I, I'm a really big fan of the people component of, of learning too. So I hear what you're saying. You're gonna be able to learn probably. 10 times more than you would be able to. Um, by speaking with somebody who's an industry expert, then by trying to go find some obscure blog article about, uh, you know, fire protection or, you know, something specific that you wanna learn about, you know, better to go talk to the person who's made it, their life's passion to know about this thing.
Absolutely. I just, uh, want to thank you for your time, Alexandra. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. It's been an absolute pleasure and, um, I'm really excited to see where your career takes you. I think, uh, uh, it seems like you, uh, Got it figured out. Thank you so much, GU this is super fun. Thanks for listening, everybody.
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