The Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies is a division of the Faculty of Health
Career path at one of the world's most famous parks
Working as the Supervisor of Operations at Central Park in New York City is every bit as cool as it sounds. The iconic park, set in the heart of NYC is familiar to most of us as it has been the backdrop of films, TV shows and commercials for decades. That’s where you’ll find Dylan Flannery – graduate of the MA Recreation and Leisure Studies program. After his Master’s, he was hired by the Central Park Conservancy, the non-profit foundation that raises the $80 million needed each year to fund the management of Central Park. With 46 million visitors annually, and anywhere up to 400,000 people within its boundaries at any given time, Dylan runs a team that not only ensures the policies created to protect visitors’ safety and experience in the park are observed, but that they are also structured to ensure that visitors have the very best experience at Central Park.
Opening doors - outdoors
During his undergrad, Dylan had initially picked a program that wasn’t a good fit for him. He left that university to follow his interests, and found a full-time job with the City of Waterloo’s Parks and Trails division. Doing everything from tree trimming to cleaning and everything in between – he realized that outdoors was where he belonged. He returned to higher education, enrolling in the BA Tourism and Park Management program at the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies while still maintaining part-time hours working at Waterloo’s city parks. After graduating with a BA, he didn’t have a specific plan in mind but instinctively felt that with a graduate degree there would be more opportunities.
“ I believe in opening doors, never closing them.”
With an open mind and a sense of adventure, Dylan applied to City Park jobs all over the world; landing the Supervisor of Operations job at Central Park less than a year after graduating with his Master’s. He picked up and moved to the Big Apple - a city he had never been to, with no connections.
The value of a graduate degree
Dylan attributes his MA Recreation and Leisure Studies degree directly with his successful career. The education he received from Waterloo, combined with the real-world experience he had working at the City of Waterloo has led to where he is today:
“With a grad degree, you’re seen as someone who’s more likely to succeed than without it.”
As a lifelong learner Dylan isn’t stopping just yet, having just been promoted to Manager of Operations at Central Park. “With a graduate degree, you’ve concentrated on one area, but there’s still so much to learn. What you also get from a Master’s is that it pushes you to continue to learn. No matter where you’re working, you can always find ways to learn and make things better.”