Monday, June 9, 2008

Yes, IAAPA Is a Good Place to Work

For more than a decade I've been sticking tape recorders and cameras in people's faces and asking them to talk and smile. A few weeks ago, the tables were turned on me for the first time.

I was profiled in Sunday's edition of The Washington Post, for the paper's "Sunday Source" lifestyle section. You can read the article here. The reporter interviewed several people in the D.C. area who work at … unusual trade associations. He was looking around for association names that sounded fun/cool and landed on us—having "amusement parks" in our name was a big key, obviously. 

He first contacted Sarah Gmyr, our media relations manager, and asked if anyone in our office gets to do anything fun as a part of the job. Now, a lot of people in this building get to do a lot of incredible traveling and see some amazing things; we're all lucky to work here, as far as I'm concerned. But Sarah recommended me because I'm the only one who regularly gets on the rides as part of my actual job—not just a fringe benefit. (For those who may not know, I visit as many parks as I can in the spring to cover their new rides and attractions—be sure to watch for our annual New Rides and Attractions special section this August covering new stuff from around the world.)

Case in point: The reporter talked to me on a Tuesday, and the very next day I was on my way to Hersheypark to get on the new "Fahrenheit" coaster up there. The Post thought this was a great idea for a picture, so they had a photographer meet me at the park to snap some pics. This was a big shift for me, because I'm typically the guy shadowing a photographer on FUNWORLD projects, not the other way around (some of you reading this may have even been on a cover at some point). It went OK, though—I was able to use my experience setting up shots in parks to help the photographer scout locations. The picture he took of me (and my brother, lucky dog that he is) riding in the front row of "Fahrenheit" turned out really cool, and the Post used it as the cover for the section. Big thanks to Kathy Burrows, PR manager at Hersheypark, and her team for helping us set the shoot up basically on a few hours' notice!

The reporter quoted me accurately in the story: This is the dream job I never knew about until I got it. I never thought I'd find a place where I honestly enjoy coming into work—and not just on days I'm visiting a park! So thanks to those of you out there who have given me a few moments of your time in interviews or providing me with the critical info I need to do my job.

To answer the headline's question: Yes, this is work, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun. I certainly don't take it for granted.

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