submitted by Nancy Clement, Partnering, Engagement and Communications Officer, PEI Field Unit, Parks Canada.
This is the third in a series of interviews with “Parkies” (Parks Canada employees) working on PEI.
Meet Mike Ford, Visitor Facilities Team Leader, Parks Canada
What led you to apply for a position at Parks Canada?
For years I had worked in an outside environment, but for the 10 years since then I was working inside. I enjoy the outdoors, so I thought, why not? I applied for a position, and as luck would have it, COVID-19 forced me to take a layoff from my job at the time. Shortly thereafter I was offered a position with Parks Canada.
How was your experience with Parks Canada during your first year?
When I started with Parks, I had a lot of questions and had to make a lot of calls to one of the senior employees. Not once did he ever make me feel inferior and always helped me with whatever I needed.
How did your experience complement or support your studies or your career path?
I had never considered working with Parks as a career, but wow has my mind changed. Since I started with Parks two years ago, I have met some great people who have been so supportive and encouraging. Supervisors have encouraged me to apply for positions when they become available and offer me the opportunity to temporarily fill positions to gain experience.
What positions have you worked in so far?
I’ve worked as a Visitor Facilities Attendant and Visitor Facilities Team Leader.
How is your experience different now that you have been with Parks Canada for a couple of years?
My days vary greatly, from time at my desk doing office work to running to pick up supplies. I could be cleaning bathrooms, collecting garbage, or packing wood. I do anything that needs to get done. I always say I would never ask any of the team to do anything I wouldn’t, so I just jump in and try to lend a hand whenever it is needed.
The Visitor Facilities Team Leader position was something very new to me, doing office work instead of just being out in the field. I had various supervisors throughout the summer, and each one supported me and gave me their time when I needed it. My supervisors are great!
Are there any challenges? How have you overcome them?
Right now, my challenge is office work. Specifically, computer work! I am an old school, fill out a paper kind of guy, and now technology has taken over and I’ve had to learn to use computers. So it has been a learning process, but I am getting better.
Out in the field, the challenge is that I cannot please every visitor or accommodate every student as much as I want to and as much as I try. But I do the best I can, so at the end of the day, I’m OK with that.
What is the best thing about working for Parks Canada?
The people!! Being a “Parkie” was something I never heard of, but I’m quite proud of it now. People just help!
Tell me about your most memorable day!
Likely the day I said yes to a permanent year-round position with Parks. To be honest, I love getting up each day and heading to work.
Would you encourage a friend to apply at Parks Canada?
Yes! Working here is like finding an extended family you didn’t know you had! I now know why they say “find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” I only wish I would have found Parks Canada sooner!