IT'S NOT EASY TO BREAK INTO THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY--HERE'S WHY AND HOW YOU SHOULD.
I've worked in the outdoor industry since the turn of the century. And I can vouch: it's a special community to be a part of. Along the way I've made lifelong friends, circumnavigated the globe chasing my passions, helped take three companies public, and grown my career in ways I'm not sure would have been possible in another industry.
That's not to say it hasn't come without its fair share of trials. I've spent countless nights in hotel rooms away from my family, experienced layoffs that left great people in bad places, suffered through corporate restructurings, and been underwhelmed with my compensation package.
But no job or industry has it all, right? Right. So, what makes the outdoor industry special? According to the Commerce Department, the outdoor industry accounted for $374 billion in nominal gross domestic products in 2016. To put that into context, that's two percent of the overall GDP--larger than the oil and mining industries.
And it's no wonder. Almost half, or 49 percent, of the US population over the age of six participated in an outdoor activity at least once for a total of 10.9 billion outdoor outings in 2017. With that kind of economic and cultural impact, the outdoor industry is garnering more attention than ever before. The desire to "work where you play," has never been stronger.
If you've got a thing for the outdoors, and you're contemplating making a move into the industry, here's how to do it.
FOLLOW YOUR PASSION
Ask anyone who works in the outdoor industry why they chose this path and they all start with the same sentiment: their love of the great outdoors.
Over a hot stack of blueberry pancakes at Millcreek Cafe, I asked Lindsay Malone, who oversees marketing and communications at Gregory Packs, why she chose to work in the outdoor industry. She put her fork down, smiled, and took a breath before beginning, "In what other industry could you get paid to walk around a tradeshow floor swapping backpacking stories, comparing Chaco [tan lines], or trouncing through the mud at a thru-hiker festival ... We work in an amazing industry. Yes, we get to wear flannel to work and our 'work' events consist of meetings over beers and demo days, but more importantly, we are surrounded by people who love the outdoors in every form."
Ms. Malone's love for the outdoors is infectious. Not only does she work in the industry, but it is clear she has...