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Wdowiak Postcard

Jeremy Wdowiak (RPTM 2017) offers this advice for career success and growth in the field of RPTM: “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It will lead to opportunities in the field that you may not have considered.” 

Wdowiak Hot Air Balloon

Originally from the Pittsburgh area, Jeremy followed his father and his two siblings to Penn State. “I didn’t really even apply anywhere else,” said Jeremy. His initial plan was to major in business, but he soon found out that it wasn’t for him. He learned through early interactions with advisors that students who were interested in sports management at Penn State should consider RPTM. As a native Pittsburgher, he was a fan of all things Black and Gold.

In both the RPTM curriculum and what Jeremy described as “Gen Eds that supported an outdoor focus”, he began to see the connection between recreation and the outdoors. He took Bi Sci 003 (Environmental Science) and ended up being a Teaching Assistant (TA) for the course. Along the way as he was still deciding the path to take in RPTM, he gained experience through summer jobs and internships, first with the Sewickley Heights Golf Club and then with the State College Spikes.

Wdowiak and Pete Allison on a snowy mountain

“The great thing about RPTM is that the faculty help and support students,” said Jeremy. “It started with having Dr. Dattilo’s brother as a teacher in high school. Then, when I got to PSU, making the connections with the faculty was so important to me. Even as an alum now, I know I can call any of them and they would help me.”

“I look back on my internship and remember having no idea where I wanted to apply. I remember Patty Kleban telling us to set up a LinkedIn page in RPTM 394. It’s funny, that is how she reached out to talk to me about this interview. Through LinkedIn.” Jeremy initially accepted an internship with the National Forest Service, but his faculty connections would change the direction of not only his internship but his career.

“Dr. Allison (Associate Professor in RPTM) was out in Montana with PSIA-AASI and met Dan Lakatos, who is now the Director of Outdoor Pursuits at the Yellowstone Club. When Pete got back, he encouraged me to apply for the internship. I contacted the National Forest Service and told them I had a change of plans.”

Jeremy started to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Wdowiak White Water Rafting

“I had never skied or guided or done mountain biking. I knew I wanted to be out West, but here I was now facing a move across the country. I wanted to challenge myself. When I got here, I lived in employee housing. I didn’t have a car, so I would have to take the bus to my own adventures. I learned a lot.”

According to the website, Yellowstone Club is the world’s only private ski and golf community. The club is located near the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park and close to Big Sky, Montana. It boasts a private ski area, golf, and residences; and the club itself which features a ski lodge, dining opportunities, fitness facilities, sports facilities like tennis and basketball, a spa, and a youth center. Yellowstone Club is an exclusive club and community with unparalleled amenities and services for their discerning members.

Wdowiak hunting in snow

Combining commercial recreation with a business focus, Jeremy started as a guide in the Outdoor Pursuits department offering guided experiences for adult members and their families, as well as through their kid’s camps and field adventures. In the warm weather months, Outdoor Pursuits at Yellowstone Club offers hiking and backcountry adventures, ropes courses, zip line, horseback riding, kayaking, white water rafting, fly fishing, and wildlife trips to view elk, moose, and bear in addition to golf. They offer excursions into Yellowstone National Park. Winter programming shifts to downhill skiing as well as Nordic skiing, snow shoeing, sledding, and snowmobiling. 

“I received incredible training through my job,” said Jeremy. “A lot of the staff who guide in the summer are ski instructors here in the winters. I had never skied before coming to Montana. I now do it all.”

Wdowiak Skiing

Jeremy was a guide during his internship, but also gained exposure to reservations and billing that semester. Through that experience, he was able to move his focus into reservations full-time where he currently serves as a supervisor within the Outdoor Pursuits department.

Jeremy plans to stay out West for the foreseeable future. “This is where I live now and where I work. I have learned so much here. If I ever do decide to move back East to be closer to family, I am bringing confidence, communication skills, and experience with high end clients. I can go anywhere. This field gives you the tools to be successful.”