College Recreation Department Administrator

Sharon Carey

Tell us about your work---what do you do? I am an administrator in a collegiate recreation department . As such, I oversee five professional staff members and 10 student staff members who implement recreational programming and services. They include intramural sports , sport clubs , recreational swim , informal recreation, and wellness . Additionally, I oversee the budgeting, risk management auditing and policy writing aspects of the Department. What skills are needed? People skills are the most important. Having the ability to communicate with a diverse group of participants and staff has aided my success. Strong planning skills are also essential. What was your major? Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Business Education ( Mankato State University ); Master of Arts in Recreation Administration ( University of Nebraska -- Omaha ) How did you get started in your career? As an undergraduate, I became a friend to a student who worked in the Intramural Sports Office. After getting to know me, he thought I would enjoy working in that environment and encouraged me to apply. I was hired and met my career mentor, Dr. Marjorie Hodapp, the Director. After three years of increased responsibility as a student worker, Dr. Hodapp encouraged me to attend graduate school and pursue a career in collegiate recreation. She provided me with a strong foundation for a successful career. What experience do you need in this job? You need to have collegiate experience in the recreation field. Graduate assistantships are a valuable way to gain this experience. Many colleges and universities offer paid tuition and a stipend to their graduate assistants. While in undergraduate school, you should work for the campus recreation department. Most campuses rely on student workers to staff their programs. Student participation is also valuable. Describe your "typical" workday: In the average day, I attend or conduct two to three meetings. These meetings usually involve planning for future events, facility improvements, or budget/policy changes. Most students participate in recreation after class, so many afternoons are spent interacting with student participants either socially or as a troubleshooter. During my spare moments, I find myself informally discussing professional issues or ideas with the other professional staff. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Strategic planning is the hardest aspect of my job. At my current university, funding allocations occur once per year for the upcoming year. This does not allow for long-term decision making due to budget uncertainty. Another aspect of my job that is difficult is to educate other collegiate administrators of the importance and impact that recreation has on retaining and recruiting students. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? The most rewarding aspect of my job is the environment. A college campus is a very social and upbeat place. Most of our participants are very happy, positive people who enjoy what they are doing. It is also rewarding to know that you make a difference in the life-long habits of many college students. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Gain diverse experience in the recreation field. Many students accept graduate assistantships that provide specialized experience (such as just working in the Intramural Sports portion of the department). Attempt to have the working knowledge of as many aspects of recreation as possible. You can be an expert in one area, but not at the expense of the others. The only other suggestion is to select this field because you really love it. If making a lot of money and financial gain motivates you, I suggest another field.