When I first started my internship at PDA’s Training and Research Institute (TRI) this summer, I was not sure what to expect. I’ll be honest; I felt some trepidation as I entered the building on my first day. After all, my father, Walter Morris, also works at PDA, overseeing the very magazine you are reading right now. Working in the same building as my dad was a scary prospect at first. Plus, I had just graduated from high school and only had my experiences in school to draw from, so I truly did not know what to expect.
Fortunately, once I got settled in at TRI, I felt right at home, thanks to the TRI staff. I worked on many projects that became very informative learning experiences, and gave me knowledge to use in college and beyond. First, I helped David Talmage start a new online inventory system that simplifies how TRI organizes its stock. To fulfill this task, I had to inventory much of TRI’s supplies, input this data into the new system, and organize it into easy-to-use groupings.
In addition, I had an opportunity to work in the TRI labs. My favorite responsibility there involved using the autoclave. I learned a lot about this remarkable machine—how it works, why autoclaving is important, and how to prepare items for the autoclave process. The autoclave is a very important tool for a lab because it sterilizes the equipment before it enters the lab. First the materials are packaged into autoclave-safe bags, which will not melt or catch on fire. The bags are then loaded into the autoclave which blasts extremely hot steam at temperatures upward of 250˚F onto the bags until the equipment is properly sterilized.
Ryan Morris poses in the gowning area at PDA TRI in Bethesda, Md.
Finally, I helped the PDA Education staff prepare for the renovation of the original TRI office and lecture room spaces into new laboratory spaces. While it was overwhelming at first, surrounded by boxes and stacks of papers, I took the initiative and lent a hand filing old papers and scanning others into a computer. Hopefully, this means there will be less stacks of paper for the next round of renovations!
While my work was beneficial to TRI and the PDA Education staff, I believe it was equally helpful for me as I learned so much from the experience. My biggest takeaway? Working is a lot different than going to school. Until this internship, I’d never known what it was like to work in an office. I found I needed more independent thinking to complete my tasks successfully as the requirements were not as straight-forward as they would be for say, a class project. I also honed my time management skills, learning to use the time allotted to me effectively and efficiently.
I also discovered work is not always monotonous. Many parts of my internship were quite enjoyable and engaging. I want to thank PDA, and more specifically, Craig Elliott and the PDA Education staff for not only giving me this opportunity, but for making it a memorable experience that will benefit me going forward in my academic and professional life. I enjoyed this internship and would certainly do it again.
PDA Who’s Who
Craig Elliott, Senior Vice President, Education, PDA
Walter Morris, Senior Director, Publishing, PDA
David Talmage, Director, PDA Education