Monday, October 01, 2007

Alumni Report: New Beginnings with Stephanie Rubio Prine IPE '99

To say the least, my career path since leaving UPS with an IPE degree has been less than conventional. Like many people upon graduation, I was excited to be done with school but a little apprehensive about entering the cooperate world of suits and ties. So, I didn’t! Instead I took a full time position where I had been a work study through most of my years at UPS.

Sounds pretty logical so far, right? Not so fast. My work study job wasn’t with US Bank or Evergreen as you might assume. My work study job was at the Pt. Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in the zoological department thus I spent the next ten years of my life as a zookeeper. See, you really can do anything with an IPE degree!

While they were a very fun and exciting ten years, scooping up elephant dung with a shovel and training tigers to lay down on que slowly started to lose its charm. So, at the end of 2006 I decided it was time to try a new career and went back to my IPE roots for inspiration. Because I always had an interest in international trade, my goal was to work for one of the shipping lines or one of the ports here in Western Washington. I was a little nervous about my prospects; would my IPE degree and winning smile be enough to get a hiring manager to look past the zookeeper sitting across from them? Alas, it was and in February of 2007 I started my new job as an Assistant Operations Manager for APM Terminals in the Port of Tacoma.

So you might be wondering, what is an Assistant Operations Manager and who ever heard of APM Terminals? Excellent question! Well APM Terminals is a division of Maersk, the largest shipping line in the world. APM Terminals operates the terminals where the container ships dock. Our job is to organize the unloading and reloading of the vessels when they come into the port. There are several terminal operators within the port of Tacoma serving the various shipping lines that call there. Our terminal serves 5 different vessels on a weekly rotation for Maersk as well as Horizon Lines. Basically the container ships arrive at our dock; we take a certain number of containers off and then put different ones back on. The number of containers discharged from a ship or loaded onto the ship, generically referred to as ‘moves’, can vary widely. For example, the Horizon Lines Pacific generally only requires around 250 moves while the Maersk Sofie sometimes requires 1400. The whole process goes pretty quickly and ships rarely sit on the dock for more than 24 hours.

While it’s only been six months I am very happy with my new job and am having a great time learning something new. At times I still feel a little out of my element amongst the giant cranes and speeding trucks but I’m starting to get used to it. Heck, I don’t even miss my shovel anymore.

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