This Career Regularly Delivers New Discoveries

Susan sitting on a sand dune with her dog Smokey at Great Sand Dunes National Park
Susan McPartland sitting on a sand dune with her dog Smokey at Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Image courtesy Susan McPartland

What is your name and job title?Susan McPartland, Visitor Use Management Specialist at the Denver Service Center Planning Division

What experience and education do you have? I have worked at DSC Planning for almost six year as a part of the Visitor Use Management team working on a variety of planning projects from design concept plans to visitor use management plan. I have a masters in social science from the University of Denver along with a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

What is a typical day like? A lot of my day is often spent in meetings with other planners either brainstorming about planning projects or coordinating with park staff about a project we are working with them. When I'm not in meetings, I am at my computer writing draft documents, preparing for upcoming workshops, or scheduling more meetings.

What career advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a similar path? Find people who are doing work you think is interesting and ask for informational interviews. It is amazing how people come to their jobs from all sorts of backgrounds and it is helpful to see common threads of skills and passions that brought them to where they are rather than a specific education or job background. Interviewing people is a great way to see various options that can lead you to some great jobs and is a wonderful way to build your network of professionals.

What is one of the bigger projects you are working on and what about that project might surprise people? I am working on a design concept plan for Jimmy Carter National Historic Site. The project is looking at an area of the park that will one day be open to the public. We are working with a university to conduct visitor surveys to understand what motivates people to come to the site and what their thoughts are for how this future site could be open to the public. The biggest surprise from that survey so far is that visitors come to the historic site for time in nature. We often think of cultural sites as not being as related to natural resources, but we are learning that the natural resources of this park are just as important to the public as the cultural resources. This certainly makes sense since the natural environment is so important to the Carters!

Anything else you'd like to add? The best part of my job is getting to work in truly collaborative teams who all bring different strengths to the table.