Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Birthday

TigerBlog remembers the first time he ever came across TB-Baltimore.

His name was just another one on the top of another resume in a pile of literally hundreds. The OAC was looking to hire two interns - this is back in 1995 - and the big pile had already yielded one promising candidate, Vincent DiCarlo Jr., and now the task was finding a second.

One by one, the better ones were eliminated, leaving TB-Baltimore to join DiCarlo and the lone holdover of that year, a woman named Laura Stange, as the three OAC interns of 1994-95.

The whole system back then revolved around finding quality interns, because without them, nothing good could happen around here. It was at the same time rewarding, because the track record was pretty good, and frustrating, because they could only stay two years, and by the time they were trained and running at maximum efficiency, they were out the door.

Looking back now, TB can't always remember what order they all came in. Chuck Sullivan, Laura Stange and Emmy Zack were here when TB got here. Chuck and Emmy left - Chuck went to UMass-Boston, Bentley, Harvard and ultimately the Big East; Emmy went to Oregon and then fell off the OAC map from there - and TB-Baltimore and Vinnie came in.

Eventually, maybe 10 years ago or so, the University changed its human resources policies to essentially wipe out the internship program, which paid next to nothing ($1,000/month) but did offer a free apartment (5T Magie, in the Hibben-Magie complex). TB spent many an interview process trying to explain to the candidates that it might only pay $12,000/year, but with the apartment factored in and the resulting amount of money that would be necessary to be earned to afford it, the salary was really more like $10,000,000.

The result of the elimination of the internship positions has been that salaries to many people on this campus have come way up to make them actual full-time positions. The trickle down to the average reader of goprincetontigers.com has been that instead of constant turnover/hiring/training/turnover, the OAC is lucky to have great continuity.

That has allowed the website and all the other communications functions here to reach close to their fullest potential. What Princeton - and many other schools that used to have the same intern model - is able to offer in athletic communications far exceeds what otherwise would have been possible.

Still, there was a certain charm to the whole internship model.

It would start each year with an ad in the NCAA News (the actual printed one) and several other industry publications, and then the resumes would come rolling in.

Some were comically unsuited for the job, such as 50-year-old lawyers who would say how they needed the career change and always liked sports, and others applied to a bunch of internships with the same cover letter and forgot to change the name of the school on top.

The interview process was always a nightmare. There was so much riding on picking the right people, and so much was going to be asked of them right off the bat, that making big mistakes would be a disaster.

Plus, there were the ones who would come in and immediately say or do something unbelievably dumb and therefore disqualify themselves right off the bat. Or the ones who wouldn't say anything dumb but would make it obvious after the first 30 seconds that they weren't the right person.

Eventually there'd be one or two new people each year, since there were three interns at any given time. Almost universally, they were good choices, though they had wildly varying personalities.

It couldn't have been that easy for them, either. Here they were, just out of college, thrown into a job that required long hours and then on top of that forced to live with the other two interns, meaning that they really had no way to get away from it all each night.

Still, those days were good ones, for the interns and the ones who hired them.

The interns got some great work experience and to experience some great events, like for Vinnie and TB-Baltimore at the 1996 NCAA basketball tournament win over UCLA. Vinnie came home with a sign that said "This is not a public entrance to the RCA Dome;" TB-Baltimore mugged for the CBS camera behind Pete Carril as he was interviewed postgame.

Others got trips to exotic spots, like Hawaii, out of the deal. Still others got to go to Bemidji, Minnesota, in December with hockey.

Ultimately, what really came out of some of these hirings were some great friendships, several of which last to this day.

Yes, some have drifted away, but even they left their mark. Late last week, women's track and field coach Peter Farrell came in and asked if anyone still talked to "Jiyen," which as anyone who worked here at the time knows, refers to Jenn Garrett, the pride of Due West, South Carolina, who left here to go to Georgia and now is at parts unknown.

When TB thinks back to those years, he thinks of what a great opportunity it was to meet these people just starting out and hopefully help them down the path to their current professions.

Regardless of where they are, TB is pretty sure they look back on their time here with great fondness and great memories and that wherever they are today, work isn't quite as much fun as it was when they were here.

For TB, he's stayed closer to some more than others through the years, but none more so than TB-Baltimore, who's gone from a name on the top of a resume 16 years ago to become a highly trusted friend, a valuable voice of reason and advice, a person with whom TB has shared all kinds of good times and even some bad.

It's great to have people like TB-Baltimore on your side, knowing that no matter what, they're always there for you, they'll always listen to you, they'll often make fun of you and they'll never let you down.

So happy birthday, TB-Baltimore. Thanks again for all the insults and jokes at TB's expense - and ultimately for reminding TB that regardless of what else is going on in his world that he always has a friend out there.

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