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A love of music and Cape Breton all rolled up into a career

What is your full name and title? And how long have you been in this role?

My name is Adam Young, and I've been the Internet content and new media officer for Parks Canada's places in Cape Breton-Canso for the past two-and-a-half years. Additionally, I have been a director of summer productions at the Louisbourg Playhouse for the past 10 years.

What exactly do you do?

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With Parks Canada, I am responsible for keeping the website for five national historic sites and one national park up to date, and for looking after the social media channels for Cape Breton Highlands National Park and the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. At the Louisbourg Playhouse, I direct a musical comedy revue, play the piano and accordion, and write and act in comedy sketches.

Describe what you do on any given day.

My typical day (during the summer, at least) involves keeping an eye on the social media feeds for our parks/sites first thing in the morning, and can go in any direction after that – from photography/videography needs, to arranging filming agreements and accompanying film crews, to updating the website. After that, I'm off to the Louisbourg Playhouse, where we'll run through a quick sound check, perform, and then meet and greet the audience afterwards.

What's your background and education?

I'm a Cape Bretoner, born and raised – and proud of it! I attended the University College of Cape Breton, where I took one year of computer science before realizing math and I don't really get along. After that revelation, I made the switch to a Bachelor of Arts, and graduated with a double major in English Literature and Celtic Studies.

How did you get to your position?

Shortly after graduating from university, I began working for Citizenship and Immigration Canada in Sydney. After a few short periods of employment there and some work in local call centres, I began working for one of Service Canada's Employment Insurance call centres. I stayed there for the better part of five years, always applying for positions as they came up within the public service. I received some bad news about the position I was in – on Christmas Eve, no less – and instead of getting discouraged and frustrated, I decided it was time for me to get out. I applied for 17 jobs that day, and ended up getting the one I really wanted.

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Despite not having a degree in computer science, I was quite familiar with designing and maintaining websites, having taught myself in the late 1990s. This led to some web and graphic design work, mostly for local musicians and an online store for Cape Breton music.

I have played the piano since I was five years old, and was brought up listening to fiddle music. Now, I mostly provide piano accompaniment for fiddlers. The year I was graduating from university, an ad appeared in the newspaper for a local theatre that was looking for a new musical comedy revue to run for 11 weeks that summer.

I didn't have any employment lined up at the time, and put together a proposal with a few musician friends, not expecting it to be taken seriously. I guess they were looking for fresh, new faces because, despite being completely unknown in the local music scene, they chose our group – without hearing any of us play a note!

What's the best part of your job?

It sounds cliché, but every day is something different. I'm not a huge fan of routine, and I'm pretty lucky that I get to be creative all day, every day, and work for two fantastic organizations. But the best part of both of my jobs is the opportunity to share my love of Cape Breton's culture, history, music and natural landscape with people from all over the world, and lots from here at home.

What's the worst part of your job?

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Honestly, about the only negative thing happens as the summer wears on – you get progressively more tired from working all day and night. But it's all more than worth it.

What are your strengths in this role?

Creative thinking, a positive attitude and a willingness to adapt are, I think, my biggest strengths. And my job is made much easier by working with people who are incredibly engaged and passionate about what they do. A positive, fun working environment is necessary for me to work well – and I've got two of them.

What are your weaknesses?

Not taking the time to eat properly or exercise while busy all summer. But I'm working on it.

What has been your best career move?

Aapplying for 17 jobs in one day. That was probably my best career move. Rather than be discouraged by failure or not having things go exactly as I wanted them to, I rolled up my sleeves and made a plan to change things.

What has been your worst career move?

Staying in a job I didn't like for five years – although, without that experience I very well may not have ended up where I am today.

What's your next big job goal?

I'm pretty content right now. Regardless of what the future holds for me, my goal is to stay with the Parks Canada Agency as long as I can and to keep making music for the rest of my life. I've wanted to work with Parks Canada since I was a kid, and now I'm living two dreams.

What's your best advice to others who might want to follow in your footsteps?

I feel like kids coming out of high school are expected to know exactly what they want to do with their lives, and are almost forced to make certain life choices they're not prepared for right after graduation. I think it's important for young people to be open to the possibility that they might not be in the right field – that there might be something better waiting for them if they're open to the possibility. It's fine if you have a course already charted out in your head, but it's also fine to figure it out as you go. Stay positive and trust that you'll end up where you should be – but you're going to have to work for it – and be open to any opportunities along the way.

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