Recreation management alum Tim Jaskiewicz credits career success to strong network
Tim Jaskiewicz ‘06 has worked for Illinois park districts throughout his career, having earned his bachelor’s degree in recreation and park administration (RPA) at Illinois State. An internship with the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA) opened his eyes to the importance of making professional connections. His first job out of college was supervising swim teams, water exercise programs, and managing the indoor aquatic facility at Arlington Heights Park District. Today, Jaskiewicz oversees a waterpark, an assistant, 260 part-time staff, concessions, and a $1.3 million budget at Bolingbrook Park District.
A typical day for Jaskiewicz involves checking pools, managing staff, answering messages, and working on season-specific tasks. Staff is hired in the winter, the budget is prepared in the summer, and three times a year the district’s aquatics program brochure is published. Weekends involve lifeguard training and special events. Jaskiewicz also mentors several young professionals.
For Jaskiewicz, staff represents the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the job. Having to confront them when things go wrong is unpleasant but necessary in a well-run facility. Seeing staff members performing their work well or interacting with them at in-service training or on outings is most satisfying. He also never tires of watching kids enjoy the pool, learn a new skill, or go off the water slide for the first time.
Working at an aquatics facility sounds like a lot of fun, but central to all that fun is safety and having skilled lifeguards. Last year his staff performed 200 rescues, often on guests who simply forgot they had moved from a shallow part to a deeper part of the pool. Occasionally a more serious rescue will occur. After those situations, Jaskiewicz always debriefs the situation with the staff.
Jaskiewicz credits the RPA program at Illinois State with preparing him to pass the Certified Park and Recreation Professional exam. His classes and interactions with faculty and industry professionals provided the foundational knowledge and experience to give him confidence in budgeting, program planning, evaluation, and marketing.
A recipient of the 2017 IPRA Chairman’s Award, Jaskiewicz was recognized for his volunteer work with the Western Golf Association’s professional championship. From those volunteer efforts, a donation is made to IPRA for professional development and scholarships. Also, the Arlington Heights Park District aquatics facility won a national excellence award and recognition as the Chicagoland site of the year by the Arthritis Foundation. Jaskiewicz is currently a member of Illinois State’s RPA advisory council.
Jaskiewicz’s funniest memory of the RPA program was when professor Dan Elkins surprised his class by embedding an ultrasound image to reveal the gender of his first born! Jaskiewicz credits the strong culture of the RPA program with his career successes. He’s proud to be a Redbird and advises those ready to graduate to make and maintain connections with professors and professionals.