Happy Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation month! There are so many students that comprise this career community, like my friend Ellie, who have had many positive experiences related to their career! I asked her some questions regarding an internship she had over the summer, in addition to tips she has for students in related programs!
1) Ellie, what’s you major, and how are you involved in your program?
My name is Ellie Broyles and I am a senior studying recreational sport management. I currently serve as the President of Club Rec, which is the club for Recreational Sport Management and Public, Nonprofit, and Community Recreation.
2) What internship did you have over the summer, and how did you find this opportunity?
This summer I was the Programming Intern for the Bristol Bay Borough Parks and Recreation Department in Naknek, Alaska. As a kid, I read a book that resembled Charlotte’s Web, but it was about a family who bred sled dogs in Alaska. Ever since then I had it set in my brain that I was going to go to Alaska; I even would constantly pester my mom and ask to go as a family vacation (my requests were always declined). When I was searching for an internship, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to finally itch the Alaska scratch.
I was constantly refreshing the National Recreation and Parks Association’s and the Alaska Parks and Recreation Association’s career tool until an internship that met my degree certifications was posted and I immediately applied. I submitted my application on a Tuesday, interviewed on the Thursday, and found out on Friday that I had the position. It was a whirl wind, but it honestly saved me from a lot of waiting and anxiety; I was super lucky how quickly it all worked out and am incredibly thankful for whatever stars aligned for everything to work out so perfectly.
3) What are some things you learned during your time in Alaska?
One of the very first things I learned when I made it to Naknek was how to safely avoid and protect myself from the grizzly bears that also call the Bristol Bay their home. The area is home to the longest salmon run in the world, so there are lots of wildlife that are attracted to the area, some more dangerous than others.
As for the job, some of my responsibilities included lifeguarding, planning and directing the department’s summer camp, programming a summer recreation program, and planning several events for the end of the season festival the community puts on. I was lucky enough to have a lot of hands-on experience and absolutely no busy work or coffee runs. I really appreciated the experience I was able to have and learned a lot about myself both professionally and personally during my time in Naknek. I’ve never had a position that gave me so much responsibility and I realized that I can really accomplish any task I set my mind too, regardless of any bumps that might arise on the way.
I think I also learned how much recreation, hospitality, and tourism can really impact a community. There really wasn’t a ton to do in Bristol Bay, so the opportunities our department provided were really important to keeping to an active, happy, and healthy region.
4) How can students in the Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation career community get connected to
opportunities such as this?
My first tip would be to join your career’s national and local associations. The job finder tools and career centers really are super helpful and can help find you an incredible position. My second tip would be to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Heading 3,265 miles from home all alone was probably the biggest leap I could have taken out of my zone, but I couldn’t be happier that I did it.
If you’re interested in reading more about Ellie’s adventures in Alaska, read her personal blog!
Still figuring out how this whole blogging thing works!