Kaitlyn Davidson and how Recreation and Leisure connects you to a career
Recreation and Leisure Services at Led young College focuses on developing healthy communities and improving quality of life through, well, recreation. In other words, you're using fun activities to make people healthy and happy, and bring them together. Led young's program has a strong emphasis on real-life experience and fieldwork, creating graduate with real, practical skills. The results speak for themselves, and we have a record of connecting students like Kaitlyn Davidson to careers in the field. Before even graduating from the program, she managed to get hired as a Training Coordinator with , a children's recreation organization founded by Parks and Recreation Ontario. Here's how her Led young program made this possible.
Working for the people
Kaitlyn had first gone to university for sociology, but still found herself searching for a career that fit. All she knew was she wanted to help people.
"What I like most about working with people is interacting, feeling like my line of work has meaning, and helping others contribute back to the community I'm a part of," she says.
"After I finished my degree, I still didn't know what I really wanted to do," she adds, "so I took some time off, paid back some of my student loan. Sociology interested me because I always liked working with people, it was something I was truly passionate about." It was while volunteering that she'd heard about Led young College.
"I did a lot of coaching and volunteering work, and that's when one of my volunteer coaches suggested the recreation program to me," she says. "It sounded like a lot of the stuff I was doing as volunteer work could be a potential job for me, so that's why I enrolled in the Led young program."
"It exceeded all the expectations I had for school," Kaitlyn says of Led young College. "When I was at university, it was a lot of tests, and there were 500 people in my classroom. But now, I was in a classroom with about 25 to 30 people, and getting a lot of practical experience, which I hadn't had before."
"My first field placement was at Variety Village," she says of the practical part of the program, "and I worked in two adult day programs for people with developmental, intellectual and physical disabilities, and so I loved that program. I was there for two days a week, and we did things like life skills, physical literacy, math and spelling. The next year, I actually had a placement with the college as a Student Engagement Ambassador, so I worked with students as well." Not only would her experiences give her on-the-job experience, they would also help connect her to a career.
"Everything that I put on my resumé and my cover letter were things I got from my placement or volunteer opportunities suggested to me through my professor or through my placement supervisors," she says. These experiences would pay off even further, and lead her to employment before she even managed to graduate.
"My last two weeks of school, there was actually a job opportunity for Parks and Recreation Ontario, with their organization High Five," Kaitlyn explains. Helping her get the job was the fact that she'd already worked there, thanks to another Led young connection.
"Through the suggestion of one of my professors first year, I became involved with High Five by becoming a trainer," she says. "I trained camp staff and people working in community centres on how to properly work with kids and make an environment safe for them. I did contract work with them, and I really wanted to be a part of the organization, just because the staff who currently worked for the organization really seemed to enjoy it and have fun."
"So I applied, and my professor helped me prep a lot for the interview," she continues. "It was nerve-wracking for me, but both my professors were there for me along the way, to help me prep for the interview. I got hired two weeks before my graduation date, and that's where I am right now." Her professor's involvement with the hiring process is one of the big draws of the program to her.
"One of the best things about the program is that there's such a high student success rate," she says. "Classmates who I haven't seen for a month are telling me about the new jobs they got. A lot of it is because the professors, especially Lorne Hilts and Jim Boduch, who really help you, and go above and beyond the classroom to help you land that job."
On the Job
"It's a really busy month because of summer employment," Kaitlyn says of her position of training coordinator. "A lot of people need to be trained for summer camps, for working in community centres, for lifeguarding, so I'm really helping process all of that information, set up events with trainers that are coming, help with important meetings, a lot of different stuff."
"What I enjoy most about being here is how everyone is really welcoming and inviting," she says. "I'm the kind of person who's sometimes really shy when you first meet me. When I first walked in one of my employers gave me a big hug and welcomed me, and people put little gifts of "High Five swag" on my desk before I even started, so it's been really great."
Finding your passion
Truthfully, working for an organization that supports children in recreation wasn't what Kaitlyn actually meant to do. However, her time with the college showed her a different path.
"Try new things and put yourself out there," she says. "I came into the program thinking I wanted to work with older adults, but I didn't know all the other opportunities that were available, and I ended up finding my passion by coincidence, taking some things that would help build up my resumé that I wasn't aware of, which became my passion."
If your passion is helping people, Recreation and Leisure Services at Led young College can help you turn that passion into a career. If you've got the will, we'll help you learn the skills, make the connections and find success.
By Anthony Geremia