February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 50

JOB TO CAREER
Humble Beginnings
My start as a recreation professional
was basically a fluke. I grew up,
went to school and got married
in Chicago. I had been working
full time as a " desk jockey " at a
commodity-trading firm - a job
I disliked intensely, but at least it
paid (poorly). When our second
son was born, my wife and I realized
that between daycare, commuting
and other work-related expenses,
we were losing money by
having me work. She had been doing
well in her career, so I became
a stay-at-home dad. I did that for
about six months. I loved my kids,
but I hated being at home all day
and missed the " working world. "
Looking back, it was probably
good that I didn't get that
position. I don't think I was
ready to lead that agency. But
the experience made me think
about my future as a recreation
professional.
I had enrolled my older son in a
class at our local park district. One
day after the class, I got to talking
with the instructor. She mentioned
that the park district was looking
for a part-time
their athletic programs. While my
degree was not in recreation - I
didn't even know that recreation
could be a college major - I did
have a background in
athletics,
mostly as a very mediocre athlete.
I applied for the job but did not
get it. Not surprisingly, they had
found someone more qualified. A
few months passed, and I didn't
think about it much. Then, out of
the blue, the director from that department
called and asked if I was
The Career Moment
Looking back, it was probably
good that I didn't get that position.
I don't think I was ready to lead
that agency. But the experience
made me think about my future as
a recreation professional. Eventually,
I was promoted to programs
50 Parks & Recreation | FEBR U AR Y 2 0 2 4 | PARK S ANDRECRE AT ION . OR G
still interested. You bet I was! That
was my first recreation job.
My Jobs
coordinator for
My job duties grew, as they generally
do, and before long, the parttime
job became a full-time job.
After a couple years, my wife and
I decided to relocate from Chicago
to the Atlanta area. I was fortunate
enough to find a full-time
coordinator position. I didn't
know it yet - or maybe I just
didn't realize it at the time - but
recreation was now my career.
I was at my first job in the Atlanta
area for a little more than three
years. At that point, another position
with a neighboring agency became
vacant. The position offered
more money and better facilities. I
hated to leave, but I couldn't turn
it down. That was my work home
for 18 years. My duties grew over
the years, and the position seemed
" safe. " However, around 2008, the
economy declined. Like a lot of
agencies, we had to make some
pretty extreme cutbacks. We lost
about half of our full-time staff.
I was fortunate to retain my job,
but at the same time this was going
on, our director retired. I and
one other coordinator interviewed
for the position. I had more experience
and had worked for several
agencies, whereas he had only
worked at ours, but he had obtained
his CPRP certification, and
I had not. You can probably guess
who got that job.
manager, which was,
essentially,
the assistant director. I was there a
few more years when I was given
the opportunity to leave and take
on the bigger challenge of being a
department director. I have been
in that role successfully, I'd like to
think, for almost three years now.
The Lesson
There was a time in my career when
I was happy with my job and didn't
really think about advancement
or taking on additional challenges.
I felt that I was good at what I
was doing, was working for a good
agency and could see myself staying
there until retirement. That was,
frankly, not the right attitude. The
fact is, if you aren't advancing or at
least building on your skill set, you
are stagnating. The world is changing
very quickly - are you keeping
up? Political environments change.
Economic
environments
change.
Will your job always exist? Will you
be ready if it doesn't? Beyond that,
do you want to be doing the exact
same thing you are doing now for
the rest of your career? Some people
do, and sometimes that works for
them. But, as you build your skill
set and gain experience in this field,
you're building something else -
your ability to lead.
In my case, I have been involved,
on some level, in many distinct aspects
of this field. I have prepped
ballfields, organized parades, processed
payroll and prepared budgets.
I have hired people, and I
have had to let some go. All those
experiences made me a park and
recreation professional. Your agency
and our field need people with
these experiences and skills. And
we need people who can lead the
next generation of professionals. If
that's not you yet, it will be - and
soon!

February 2024 - Parks and Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of February 2024 - Parks and Recreation

February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - Intro
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - Cover1
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - Cover2
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 1
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 2
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 3
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 4
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 5
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 6
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 7
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 8
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 9
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 10
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 11
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 12
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 13
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 14
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 15
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 16
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 17
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 18
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 19
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 20
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 21
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 22
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 23
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 24
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 25
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 26
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 27
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 28
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 29
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 30
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 31
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 32
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 33
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 34
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 35
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 36
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 37
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 38
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 39
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 40
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 41
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 42
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 43
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 44
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 45
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 46
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 47
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 48
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 49
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 50
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 51
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 52
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 53
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 54
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 55
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - 56
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - Cover3
February 2024 - Parks and Recreation - Cover4
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2024
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2024
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2024
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com