Courtney Kiss is studying biology and genetics, and hopes to become a Genetics Counsellor. So, what is she doing working at Ontario Parks? “I really like meeting people from a lot of different places,” she says. “I like this job a lot.” For the past three summers, Courtney has been working as a Gate Attendant at Sandbanks Provincial Park.
Working as a Gate Attendant at Sandbanks has been her first and only job within Ontario Parks. Similar to many students, Courtney was looking for a summer job and was lucky to find one close to her home. “We get people from Alberta, British Columbia, Québec, and it’s really good to promote the county,” she explains. “People come here to see our area, and I’ve lived here my entire life. It’s really nice to say, “Go see this, it’s really cool”.
A typical day for Courtney depends on what shift she is working. Gate staff can work either the day shift or the night shift. Courtney’s responsibilities include issuing day passes, processing camping reservations, providing information about the park, and technical support. She is also on hand to answer questions and phone calls from campers, as well as provide directions within the park. “It really depends on the time of day,” she explains. “Right now, it’s pretty much all day passes but as soon as 4 o’clock hits it will be mostly reservations.”
For Courtney, the best part about her job is interacting with customers. As she is very friendly and loves meeting new people, the job is a perfect fit for her. In addition, the job provides other learning opportunities. “I get to practice French, because I would like to be better at it,” she explains. “You get people who speak very little English, so you are forced to practice.”
When Courtney is not working, she can often be found kayaking or relaxing on the beach at Sandbanks. It is no surprise that Sandbanks is her favourite park. “It has everything that I could possibly want to do,” she says. What other location would provide her with a summer job and recreational activities for her days off?
The most memorable part about Courtney’s job is the staff she works with. There are some students who Courtney has worked with for all of her three summers, and there are others who are new to the park. “The people I have worked with are all great people,” she says. “I enjoy working with them.” Courtney plans to return next summer, and it is obvious her experience working at Ontario Parks will help her in her future career. Not only has she gained customer service skills and learned all about the park system, she has on the job experience in issues management, because, as she says, “If the computer goes down, it’s a whole other ball game.”