From first-hand experience, finding a job after graduating from college can be extremely tough. The up’s and down’s of the job search can be relentless at times. For a young professional trying to make their way into the field, it’s important to keep a level head. In this month’s edition of the YPN blog, I will share my journey to this point in my career and the impact that part-time work has had on me.
I graduated from North Carolina State University in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sport Management. During my time at NC State, I grew increasingly interested in working in parks and recreation. Although I was not sure in what capacity, I knew that parks and recreation would allow me to make a difference in the lives of people in my community. In 2014, I got my first taste of working in parks and recreation when I accepted a position as a Community Center Aide with the Town of Cary.
After graduation, I was not sure what my next move would be. I really enjoyed my position with the Town of Cary, but the part-time job limitation would not be enough to sustain myself. I began relentlessly searching and applying for jobs. I came close to snagging a few full-time positions, but ultimately nothing panned out.
At this point in my search, it had been three months. I spoke with different mentors in the field, and they all encouraged me to start applying for additional part-time jobs. At first, I had mixed feelings about this approach - but ultimately decided it was the best move for my future. In August 2015, I accepted a position as an Athletic Specialist with the City of Durham.
September rolled around, and I had two part-time jobs, working 5-10 hours a week at both. Since I had some free nights, I decided to look for another part-time job (In addition to the relentless search for full-time work!). In mid-September, I was hired by the Town of Morrisville as an Athletic Field Supervisor, where I oversaw a variety of different sports.
I worked three part-time jobs until January 2016, and I absolutely loved the experience. I spent less time at home stressing about finding permanent employment, and more time out impacting communities and strengthening my work experience. I received a promotion from my job with Durham Parks and Recreation and settled into a new role with the Town of Cary. Because of the nature of local municipality athletic and recreation events, most of my nights and weekends were booked. I spent days searching for permanent employment, and nights and weekends working my collection of part-time jobs.
It then dawned on me that since most of my days were relatively uneventful, I could search for yet another part-time job - but one that offered daytime hours. I reached out to local track-out camps in my area and found XL Sports World - a commercial recreation facility that offered multi-sports camps.
By the end of January, I worked most of my weekdays at XL Sports World as a camp coach, and weeknights and weekends at some combination of my positions with the Towns of Cary & Morrisville, and the City of Durham.
Although juggling all of these positions at once made for very difficult scheduling, I settled into a routine. I was proud of myself for making the most out of my situation by examining my schedule and turning unused time into opportunities for community and professional growth.
I continued juggling my positions until August when I accepted my role as the Wellness Assistant here with NCRPA. This role was a great opportunity for a number of reasons: the chance to impact recreation and park departments throughout the entire state, a 20 hour a week position with daytime hours, and the potential for growth. It even allowed me to keep my other part-time roles, which really interested me.
These roles allowed me to be in different settings doing multiple tasks. I have learned the inner-workings of multiple agencies, allowing me to diversify my skillset. Additionally, I have really enjoyed connecting with the children and participants in the multiple programs I have been involved with.
It is safe to say that without my part-time work experience, I would not be in the position I am in today. My supervisors from my jobs became my best advocates, and the advice and experience they provided me were invaluable.
If you are a young professional looking to start or advance a career in recreation and parks, I would highly suggest looking into part-time work. Put your best foot forward and make an effort to establish connections in the community. Although the grind of part-time scheduling can be tough at times, it is often the best way to break into the industry and gain valuable connections along the way.
Meet the Author
Diquan joined NCRPA as the Wellness Assistant in 2016 and is a native of Absecon, New Jersey. He graduated from North Carolina State University in 2015 with an undergraduate degree in Sport Management. Prior to joining the staff at NCRPA, he has worked various part-time jobs with municipalities in the Triangle Area. Diquan resides in Durham, NC and enjoys playing and watching sports, hiking, the great outdoors, and spending time with friends and family in his spare time.
Diquan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-832-5868.
If you are interested in being a guest author for the YPN Blog, please contact Nicole at email@example.com or 919-832-5868.