Charlotte will mark my fourth NRPA Annual Conference but this one will be special as I will be presenting for the first time. I tossed around the idea of speaking at the national level for quite some time before I finally decided to draft my proposal. Several ideas came to mind on potential topics, and paired with my final year of graduate school, I debated on which one would be the perfect fit.
I settled on a topic that hit all too close to home: Assimilating New Employees to Your Agency.
Over the last ten years I have worked for multiple local parks and recreation departments and countless other outdoor recreation organizations. In a struggle to find my place in the industry I have, admittedly, changed jobs many times. With a new job selection comes, not only a new desk and set of business cards, but that nerve-wracking first day, and in some cases a stressful first month, of learning the ropes.
I’m sure if you close your eyes you can think back to your first day on the job: shaking hands with people whose names you won’t recall for at least a week, determining what time to take lunch, reading the employee handbook and even finding the closest bathroom. That’s the easy stuff, though. Then comes the budgeting, the politics, the “that’s how it’s always been done” conversations.
Assimilation is much more than finding the bathroom and sadly, some departments don’t realize that.
Author Jenna seen here leading Movies in Park, will be speaking at NRPA's Annual Conference on employee assimilation
I’ll take a moment to share a recent personal experience with you. I accepted a new position and mere days before beginning I received the call that I had been accepted as a speaker for Congress. With my topic of assimilating new hires, I knew I should take notes on my new department’s procedures. I had previously met many of the staff at an event, so introductions were relatively easy. My office was set-up and ready for my supply requests and within the first week I had logo embroidered clothing, really making me feel a part of the staff.
They rounded out my first week with a welcome breakfast where I was given the opportunity to verbally share my resume with the entire department – a nice addition, so the staff could hear that I knew what I was doing in my position.
Well, I walked into the conference room, which was filled with a menagerie of pastries and immediately saw a gallon of milk starring me down. While the breakfast was considerate and appreciated, no one bothered to ask if I had any dietary restrictions. My lactose intolerance wasn’t happy, but I did get quite the kick out of the ironic situation.
The last few months have felt like I have been assimilating to speaking at Congress, and this post makes that all the more true. My presentation at Congress will address the do’s and don’ts of welcoming your newest staff member. We’ll take a look at some case studies, share our own stories, and work together to draft a new way to assimilate our future employees.
If this post has gotten your wheels turning and you have an assimilation story you feel I should hear, feel free to email me. I would love to have additional input to share. Hope to see you in Charlotte!
What experiences have you had assimilating into new positions or new jobs in parks and recreation? Share your story below or tweet us @NRPA_News.
Jenna Tyler, CPRP, is a first-time NRPA Annual Conference speaker and the event planning specialist in the City of Clarksville, Tennessee.