What is your name and job title? My name is John Paul Jones and I am a Visual Information Specialist.
What experience and education do you have? Well, I got my first degree in Communications from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado with the hope of making it big in the TV news industry. But when that didn’t pan out, I worked for FedEx Express as a courier for 11 years. Whereas I loved the freedom and adrenaline rushes, it started to feel like I wanted to do more than throw boxes, expeditiously deliver and retrieve packages for the rest of my days. I guess I’m one of those “switch career paths just before the mid-life crisis kicks in” kinda guy.” I actually went to a career coach who said I’d make a lovely interior designer so enrolled at the Art Institute of Colorado but quickly found a passion working in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. Unlike all the other kids in Art School who wanted to design snow boards, I really found my zen in document layout, arranging text and imagery on a page to impact-fully convey and reinforce the message – now that’s fun! I ended up getting a second bachelor of arts in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Colorado and found my way to the National Park Service as a Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) participant.
What career advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a similar path? That’s tough because my career path was completely unplanned. I basically kept going through opened doors until I landed here and who knows if this is the last port on my cruise through life. I suppose the one key feature was going back to school and being extremely open and engaged during that experience. Too often students focus on the grades or curriculum; which is obviously important – but making a concerted effort to genuinely explore will help pick the career hat that best suits you. Now, if someone wanted advice on how to be a good designer, I’d recommend exposing yourself to as many facets of design as humanly possible. Whereas it seems that design is always changing, the more you look, the more you’ll see how the principal themes remain in play and mastering (or at least recognizing) these is key.
What is one of the bigger projects you are working on and what about that project might surprise people? That is absolutely the Foundation Document program here in the DSC Planning Division. These documents help each of the 417 park units identify their key resources, values, and intrinsic purpose, which is the basis for future planning and management. This is 75% of what I have worked on over the last six years; to date I have completed around 225 documents and am currently working on another 25. I’m totally dedicated to this program, as my colleagues will attest to and the mission really authentically resonates with me.
What is a typical day like? There truth is that there are no typical days. The majority of my day is spent in Adobe InDesign either laying out text or navigating text changes that documents go through during their creation. The rest of my day is spent corresponding with project managers and specialists at DSC, regions, and parks to keep each documents progress on track. It’s not glamorous work but I often akin graphic design to making sausage; nobody wants to watch it being made but it sure is nice when it’s done.