When I first applied to be a Torc intern, I never would have imagined that I would have the opportunity to go on my first work trip to Austin, Texas.
Search after search of “pr intern Blacksburg” on different job posting websites had proven fruitless, until I applied to Torc Robotics on a whim. Before my interview, I scoured the company’s website and social media because I had no knowledge of the trucking industry or autonomous technology. Self-driving trucks sounded cool, but what stood out to me was Torc’s mission to save lives. Saving lives, especially on highways and roads across the United States, is a truly noble mission and one that I knew I wanted to be a part of.
I started working at Torc in the summer of 2021 before returning as a spring 2022 intern while I finish my BAs in Public Relations and International Public Policy at Virginia Tech. Working full-time in office over the summer was definitely a different experience than working part-time remotely during the semester. Balancing my internship with my schoolwork and involvement in student organizations has not been easy, but with strong time management, everything is completed efficiently. The company and the Marketing and Communications team have doubled in size since I was last here and Torc is looking to hire software professionals to work in its new Torc Austin office.
Before the office opening, preparations began while I was still in Blacksburg, VA. I created a checklist for all the PR materials needed for the Austin Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting. Researching the Austin Chamber of Commerce and how its ribbon cutting Ceremonies are conducted was fascinating because I had seen local ribbon cutting ceremonies before but never thought too much about all the behind the scenes work that make a ribbon cutting happen. The week before the trip I was a little nervous because I had never been on a work trip but talking with my supervisor Laura Lawton about logistics and what my responsibilities would assuage my fears. It also was nice to know that two members of the Marketing and Comms team who I worked with over the summer would be in Austin. I then attended preparatory meetings, packed my bags and flew to Austin.
On the day of the event there were many small tasks to perform to make sure the office was ready for the Chamber and visitors. I was excited to see the event come to life and met Austin Torc’rs who were friendly and happy to have an extra set of hands. The first thing that I did alongside my coworker Jennifer was to go to the grocery store to get ice, a vacuum cleaner, coffee and plants. Back at the office, I helped decorate the office, both outside where the autonomous truck was, and inside the office space itself.
I was assigned the role to greet, sign in and direct visitors to the right location for the ribbon cutting. It was nice to be able to meet so many people through this position and throughout the event. After our executives gave speeches and cut the ribbon, I helped give visitors a tour. During the tour, visitors asked me questions about the company and autonomous trucks. Thankfully, I have learned a great deal about Torc Robotics and autonomy through my internship from the levels of autonomy to what lidar is and was able to answer their questions effectively. I then filmed a video of the office using a DGI camera with assistance from my coworker Jason Payne. I felt proud when I saw the final video that was edited by Jason posted onto Torc’s social media.
Part of why I enjoyed my trip so much was not just the excitement of the office opening but also the time I got to spend with coworkers after hours. The night before the event, I went with a group of Torc’rs to get dinner at a Tex-Mex restaurant in the Domain and it was nice to meet coworkers before the office opening. After the opening, I went to the historic Continental Club with coworkers and watched Casper Rawls, a country musician, and his band play. The Continental was opened in 1955 and has hosted many famous rock, country and blues singers. We then walked around Congress Avenue and explored local shops. Having never been to Austin before, I had fun getting a taste of the weird, youthful and uniquely Texan experience Austin has to offer.
Traveling to Austin, TX for Torc Austin’s office opening as my first work trip is an experience I will never forget and I am glad my supervisor Laura entrusted me to handle the responsibilities of the trip. I am grateful that as an intern at Torc I am able to work hands-on and really become part of the Marketing and Communications Team. I look forward to seeing what’s next for Torc Robotics and highly encourage students to consider applying to intern with Torc.
Shauna King is a senior at Virginia Tech studying Public Relations and International Public Policy. She first joined Torc in the summer of 2021 and is eager to see Torc’s growth and autonomous trucks on roads across the U.S.