This Crazy Coaster Dream: My Advice

By , November 27, 2017
Robert Cybulski

About two weeks ago, Mike and I had the opportunity to travel to the annual IAAPA Trade Show. For those who don’t know, IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) is the biggest event in the industry where hundreds of companies from around the world come to show off their products. With enough money, visitors can buy everything from replica fire hydrants to steel hyper coasters. IAAPA is a great event for students looking to get into the industry to start making and maintain connections with companies and individuals. With IAAPA still fresh in my mind, I wanted to provide my advice for getting into the amusement industry. Obviously, everyone’s path into the industry is going to be different, but this is what I have learned both through experience as well as from other professionals in the industry:

  1. Take advantage of every opportunity. Many times in this industry, opportunities will come from the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times. I had about 3 weeks left in my internship at Universal when I got a call from Adam House asking me if I was interested in interning at GCII. Of course, my initial reaction was “YES!! Let’s do it!!” However, I quickly remembered that I was already registered for classes, housing, school projects, etc. for the fall semester. Thankfully, everyone I talked to about the opportunity and my advisors at RIT were extremely supportive and told me to go for it. Obviously, timing, finances, and location might not always be ideal, but when opportunity comes knocking you should do your best to open the door.
  2. Hard work and persistence will not go unnoticed. Whether it is in your schoolwork, an extracurricular club, or on an internship, hard work is going to pay off. When our school’s theme park enthusiast club competed in the Ryerson competition at Universal last year, it was our first amusement industry competition, and we had no clue what to expect or how much effort we would have to put in. We decided that we were going to give it our all and hope for the best, but as we finished up the first challenge at 3AM the day of the presentation, we wondered if the effort and late nights were worth it. Thankfully, the judges were impressed by our performance, rewarding us with first place in the competition as well as internships at Universal Creative. So for all those students pulling all-nighters and drinking more coffee than might be healthy, know that your hard work will pay off.
  3. Go meet people! Do your best to get to IAAPA and ASTM F24 and network with professionals and students in the industry. Although IAAPA is one of my favorite events each year, I think the ASTM F24 conferences might even be more valuable as far as networking goes. Everyone at ASTM is there because they care about the industry and are generally very open to talking to students. If you can’t get to ASTM, try to attend IAAPA on Thursday and Friday after many companies have finished their sales for the week. Also, companies take notice of students who are consistently going to these events and it shows that you are serious about working in the industry.
  4. No person or task is too unimportant for you. There were times at Universal, and even at Great Coasters, where I was given a task that I felt was below my skill level. Although I may feel that my skills could be put to better use elsewhere, I’ve realized that all these small tasks have to be done by someone and they are important to a project’s success. The same can be said for people. No matter what position someone might have in a company, it is important to respect them. This industry is relatively small, and you never know where someone might end up working or what position they might eventually have.

Like I said, everyone’s path is going to be different, but I hope this advice helps all of the other students like me who are chasing a crazy roller coaster dream. I look forward to continuing to learn and grow as I continue my journey in this amazing industry.

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