by Jeremy Mortorff, Recreation Program Specialist, Hampden Township Parks & Recreation Department
We all reach a point in our careers where we come to a crossroads. What are we going to do to advance up the ladder? Add that CPRP or CPRE to our name? Possibly branch out into a new wing of recreation to diversify and make ourselves more marketable? Or maybe take a hard left or right onto a new path altogether?
Or, we could try something radically different. You (yes, YOU!) can decide to bloom where you’re planted. You are where we are for some reason. Maybe it’s because you are new in your career and just getting established. Or maybe you are coming back to parks and recreation after a time away from the field. Whatever the case, we have the power to make the absolute best of our current situation. Let me pose a question to you…
Are you content to remain in your current position forever? The quick answer most of us would offer is of course not! Naturally, we want to be rewarded for our hard work - getting promotions and with it the corresponding bumps in pay. But let me tell you (and I know I don’t need to) - it’s competitive out there. Like survival of the fittest, dog-eat-dog competition. Forget Bachelor’s degree, CPRP, CPRE, APRP (Awesome Parks and Recreation Professional-okay, okay, I may have made that one up but I could be on to something!)-many of the people out there seeking department head level roles have those letters and degrees behind their name - and much more. You need to stand out-you certainly can do that during the interview process-but guess what-if you do get that elusive interview, it may not matter the letters you have behind your name, the experience you’ve attained-the interviewer may just click with someone else more. So, what is a person to do?
In my personal journey, I’ve embraced the concept of “blooming where you’re planted”-take the time to be the best that you can be in your current role! If you are a Program Coordinator, be the best Program Coordinator known to man! Commit to running the most diverse range of programming out there, with instructors that have the same mindset of quality and innovation and won’t settle for second best. If you are an Aquatics Director, be the best Aquatics Director you can be! Take a fresh look at your lifeguard and in-service training programs. Commit to a re-invigorated way of thinking with a fresh set of eyes!
Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t aspire for better things. Certainly, set LARGE GOALS! But don’t focus so much on reaching that level that you lose sight of the amazing opportunities in front of you! In my experience, I’ve found that if you take care of business day in and day out, those opportunities will come!