Michael Normand headshot

A Parks & Recreation Career Path

Work-life balance and community support for next generation workers

Michael Normand at his Indiana University graduation.The great recession in 2009 caused many job seekers to find positions in off-career and alternative industry paths. For then-recent Indiana University graduate Michael Normand – a hospitality tourism and event management major – that scenario played out in his own life. Normand’s start as a Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation (CCPR) intern was an investment in his future that has since led to a varied, transitional career path. Normand says his various roles within the agency have helped him learn and grow along the way.

“I was looking for an internship and with family in the Carmel area, I began working with Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation as an intern,” shares Normand. “Since then, I’ve worked in and ultimately managed guest and member services, supervised youth programming, assisted in the management of our aquatics program, and served as assistant director of recreation and facilities. It’s been a great journey but I’m not sure I had envisioned staying this long.”

Normand was recently promoted to director of recreation and facilities. His experience in all aspects of CCPR, from guest and member services to recreation and facilities programming, brings a new perspective to the position.

“Mike and I have grown through CCPR together over the past 14 years and have always made a well-balanced team,” shares CCPR administration and planning director, Eric Mehl. “As opportunities arose for both of us over the years, I always advocated for Mike to keep him as a key member of our team. When I decided to pursue a different role with CCPR, I knew there was no one I would trust more than him to keep the recreation and facilities division running smoothly.”

Despite the successes with CCPR, Normand says a long-term career path wasn’t always his plan.

“In the beginning, I still thought I would ultimately move out west for a job in hospitality but little by little I began to make friends and I really enjoyed working with the different programming options,” shares Normand. “That opened my eyes to all the opportunities in the parks and recreation field that I hadn’t really thought about before.”

Michael Normand and family in MichiganLike Normand, many other young professionals start off seeing the park and recreation field as a stepping-stone in their careers. But in the 14 years Normand has worked at CCPR, he’s seen more and more people who are truly passionate about public service. In recent years it’s become increasingly apparent how essential the role of nature and holistic approaches to well-being are to our communities. Parks and recreation can impact and support good places to live, work and explore.

“Communities who understand the importance of work-life balance will attract top-performing talent who can create and implement high-quality programs that serve all individuals and families,” Normand says. “It’s finding the right people who are committed to public service, who want to give back to the community and understand how we work together for the betterment of all.”

A diverse and inclusive team, Normand says, is important too. He shares that his mentors at CCPR over the years have encouraged him to take a hard look at his team, and if everyone thinks the same, talks the same, and looks the same – then you’re probably not doing something right.

“I strive to generate a lot of creativity and encourage new ideas in a team atmosphere,” says Normand. “If you don’t, you won’t represent a realistic work community, so we focus on hiring and recruiting the best people from different backgrounds, experience and skill levels.”

Seeking community feedback is a pQuote from Michael Normandriority for Normand. Understanding how and why people use our parks, programming and facilities on an ongoing basis means we are better equipped to respond with offerings that impact and serve their needs.

“In the past few years there has been a shift in how we perceive health and that extends to creating a healthy work-life balance for our CCPR team as well,” Normand says. 

Written By: Sheryl Rodgers

Sheryl focuses on branding and marketing engagement. She’s a storyteller, editorial and media consultant, and brand builder. This story was written in partnership with Pickett & Associates.

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