Life IS a Roller Coaster – Ride It Out

Well, now that March is over, hopefully life will start picking up soon. Hopefully.

But what have I been up to these past 3 months? Lets begin…

January – nothing.

February – I learned that I had been accepted into the IAAPA Young Professionals mentorship program, and that I was paired up with my favorite person in the industry – Jessi O’Daniel, VP of Guest Relations at Kentucky Kingdom & Hurricane Bay. I’ve spent countless hours so far learning from her and getting advice from some of the best people I possibly can. One thing I love about KK is that they excel at guest experience, and just being able to hear some of the ways the leaders get their crew excited to serve is astonishing.

March – I received the biggest news of my life so far. I received a call from Kings Island Marketing, and they were asking if I had some samples to share with them of my video work. I remember applying early January (week 1), but gave up as I just figured they wouldn’t bother with me, that I was too young and inexperienced. The first step was the hardest, having a 45-minute over-the-phone conversation with two of the people who I admittedly look up to in this industry. It went really well. The next step was a group interview at the park, to see how well I could work with others. That was very insightful but very enjoyable for my first group interview, allowing me to introduce myself to others and start practicing more workplace social skills. I heard back another week later asking if I could go in for the last step, an in-person interview. I don’t think I had ever been so nervous, but I knew my passion and knowledge would get me through it.

Before I go any further, let me explain why this is my dream job at the moment.

My main goal is wanting to utilize either my PR, social media, or video editing/filming skills in an amusement park/entertainment industry setting. I watch and attend so much of these, that I often like to create my own “campaigns” to entice people to come have fun and enjoy what we may have to offer. I, personally, do not consider me a “roller coaster enthusiast”, only because the coasters are not the only thing that matter to me, let alone do they play a big part. My favorite part about this industry is using our talents and creativity for other people to enjoy, live life, laugh, and have fun. If I can get a family to leave their worries of the outside, scary world at the entrance, I know I’ll be doing something right.

Then came the weekend. I was told I would know the net day, but Friday came, and then Saturday. I had received a Facebook message from one of them, which I was having a hard time trying to look into the meanings of sending it through there instead of the regular email updates. Just being friendly, I suppose. He asked if I could talk Monday morning.

So here I am, Monday morning, down at Kentucky Kingdom’s Admin building talking to my peers and mentors for advice. I don’t remember much that morning before the phone call, because my mentor caught me starting to black out a couple times on the chair I was sitting in from all the stress. Anyway, about 2 and a half minutes in to the call, I was offered the position of Video Content Producer on the team. I don’t think I had been more proud of anything else more in my life.

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Here’s a screenshot from the moment I was offered

After that legendary moment for me, I headed out into the park (KK) with Jefferson, KK’s Social Media Coordinator, to check out what was going on in the park to get some photos for social media. I loved this opportunity because I got to pick his brains a bit and practice with some photo-ops.

I was able to get processing and my orientation in two days after the call, in a moment’s notice. HR called me saying my background check was cleared, and that I could come in sometime over the course of the next couple weeks to get settled. I asked, “what about in 30 minutes?” They were surprised to hear me say that, but said that there would be an opening within the hour. So I gathered everything and headed out the door to get my name tag, I.D., and uniform.

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Unfortunately, what followed was not as great. That was March 11, and as I was leaving Kings Island for orientation, everything started to shut down that night due to COVID-19.

Now we live in a world where moments are fragile and contact is limited. As someone who takes part in the tourism industry, it’s really sad to see how this is affecting not only parks, but lives as well. My prayers and thoughts are with everyone who has been affected. I’m glad to be a member of IAAPA, as I am given learning opportunities and resources that better my PR skills during this weird times. They are very helpful for crisis communication. I hope through my job I will be able to have the opportunity to grow and open up other job opportunities among the ranks. For PR professionals, I know this has been a daunting and stressful time. I’m studying very closely (especially in the attractions industry) how companies are responding and adapting to these rapid changes, all while keeping solid communication with their patrons/guests.

With that, I’ve also been working on creating some at-home projects that fans all-alike of Kings Island can enjoy. From crossword puzzles to videos encouraging to hook up YouTube to their television, set up a chair in front of it, and pretend like you’re at the park riding them within the confines of your household. I refuse to stay immobile and absent during these times, so what better way to stay active than create things for people’s enjoyment? If anything, use this time as a learning period and be proactive the best you can.

Hopefully this virus can get under control soon, and I can finally take that first step in the park and into my new career. Let’s not forget, there’s a 300ft drop waiting for you in Area 72 last I heard, and volunteers are still needed. No matter what, life will have its ups and downs. We have to learn to adapt, and take one day (or airtime hill) at a time. You never know, you might just enjoy the ride. 😉

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