Something I've always wondered is how so many of the members here have made connections within the industry. Many of you know important people in the different park chains or in other areas, and it is just something that I was curious about.
Those who know don't tell, and those who tell don't know. ;)
Sandor writes me nasty e-mail when people post things he doesn't like.
It's strange for me, because after ten years of doing this, I've met a great many people, and some I consider friends. But at the end of the day, what I find about this business is that it's just so small that you inevitably meet a ton of people. If you were hell bent on making a career in the business, you could network your way to the right people very quickly. There might not be any jobs, but you could network for sure.
I work with two coaster design engineers in my office.
I think a lot of people who work in the industry are coaster/park geeks too. And birds of a feather...
Yeah, but be careful who you admit it to. There is a mindset among some middle and upper management types that if you really love what you do (i.e. an enthusiast) you are not a ideal employee.
^ You mean because I love driving I'm not an ideal canidate for a truck driving job?
Driving, heck yeah you'd be a great canidate for JB Hunt or Schneider.they love people who love to drive. I was referring to employment in the outdoor amusement industry (come to think of it the same attude is pervasive in the railroad industy as well. Enthusiast is a dirty word there too)
I agree with Dutchman. Doing my time at Cedar Point, it was pretty clear, but not spoken of, that management would dismiss the enthusiast types when making management decisions. I never got why. Wouldn't an enthusiast be better for the job than anyone else?
I believe Carrie's signature says it best: "If passion drives you, let reason hold the reigns."
Being an enthusiast is not necessarily going to disqualify you from making it into management, however being an enthusiast does not necessarily make you effective. Unfortunately, it just so happens that most enthusiasts don't get the big picture- that amusement parks are first and foremost a business. They make business decisions, and if you are an enthusiast that wants to make it up the ranks, you have to be able to play the game, and think and act like a business person.
I say prove yourself first, then let people know you are passionate about the business.
That Ben Franklin was a smart guy! :)
I think the bias against "enthusiasts" is twofold. First, just because you're passionate about the business doesn't mean you know how it works. Second, and I suspect more important, there is a certain short-sightedness among middle and upper management types in certain parts of this business...if you don't see things their way, you must be wrong, and by and large anyone who has seen as much of the business from the front side as the typical enthusiast is probably not going to see things their way...!
There is another factor as well. I personally haven't pursued a job with a park (though I could probably get one) largely because I want to see more than one park every season!
Jeff makes an excellent point about the size of the business, though. I'm amazed (sometimes a little scared!) at the number of people I know, and who know me, and I don't consider myself to be "well connected"!
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
Yes it is a very small fraternity. The segment of the business I was in is even smaller, which makes it even harder to get back in (the company I worked for was dissolved after the bank that took over the family trust that owned it deemed it an "inappropriate asset"). I still get calls and emails for consults, but no offers of permanent employment, even tho I was in the business for a quarter of a century.
If you can find the proper routes, it's not hard to meet people in the industry. The key is to do it professionally because you are A) interested in a career, or B) genuinely grateful for their work. If you go up to someone like a big coaster nerd that wants to talk about your idea for a new coaster, you probably won't get far.
One thing's for sure, the people in this industry are some of the nicest I've ever met (well, most of them).
Good point Dan. A better way to approch them might be to ask about something mundane, such as how things are running or even the weather.
Loving Disney does not make one an ideal Disney cast member and the same could probably be said for all of the industry. I love riding rollercoasters but...in my opinion...working on rollercoasters is one of the most boring, repetitive jobs in the amusement park setting.
Not only is the industry small but it seems to be getting smaller every year. When I worked at Cedar Point we had two sister parks (at least when I first got there). Now Cedar Fair has a bunch of parks across the country and the networking with Cedar Point folks could likely get me a lot further (if I was so inclined).
Add to that the fact that there is more bouncing around the industry these days (I know one industry insider who has worked for at least 4 of the large companies) and you see how small it really gets.
Still though, when all is said and done, the best way to a career in the amusement park industry is starting out as a seasonal or entry level employee, proving yourself and working your way up.
I have no doubt that most enthusiasts probably make fine employees, but for the most part, lower level park stuff is pretty boring, dirty, laborious work. A great love for roller coasters and parks doesn't have much connection to following instruction and being able to tolerate long days with repetitive tasking.
When I was in the position I valued people who could work hard and play well with others. That includes not being a high mantinence diva just because you've been to a lot of parks and post on message boards.
And anyone who wonders why enthusiasts could have the reputation of being high matninence divas hasn't read this board long enough. ;)
Coaster Enuthists? High maintaince? Hooey!
All we want is all coaster to be up an running, cheap food, and no lines.
I don't think that's too much to ask. ;)
I know the dip n' dots guy.
Truthfully, there's not much I'd rather be doing right now than running rides, no matter how much I may have complained the previous two summers. I really missed doing it this summer.
It really is amazing how small the industry really is when it comes to networking. If you know one well-placed person you can have doors to multiple chains/parks ready to open.
You must be logged in to post