Where Are They Now: Version 4

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By Larry Rodman
I had the great fortune to be the Waterfront Director at Camp Manitou for the 2017 summer, and in 2018 I was able to integrate Manitou into my summer by working part-time on weekends, holidays, and a couple of ‘long weekends’ all while managing a team of 20 individuals at my full-time job as a Customer Support Manager at HubSpot, a fast-growing company in the technology sector.


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Due to HubSpot’s rapid growth, I interview a lot of people. Most of the candidates I interview are recent college graduates looking for their first ‘real’ job out of college. Let me give you a little insight into how the hiring process works, and why the skills that are developed at camp would be beneficial to so many of the candidates I meet. As an interviewer I am a part of a team that is tasked with the same goal; Hire the best candidates who raise the bar. A large number of candidates are passed over after getting to the interview stage. When we hire someone our hope is that we are bringing someone into the organization who will, within 18 – 24 months, move onto another role in the company. Each person in the interview process has a specific pillar that they are interviewing for. The pillars are:

  • Customer Gene – How well can they align with a customer, understanding what they are trying to accomplish, and what the roadblocks are.
  • Interpersonal Communication – Can we trust this individual to speak with our customers and internal teams?
  • Ownership & Accountability – Can we count on this candidate to solve for our customers and deliver consistently high-quality results on each case they work?
  • Intent & Focus (Get Sh*t Done) – Can we trust them to have the right reasons for approaching their work and driving success with customers? Do we trust their judgment?

Each of these pillars ties to specific competencies that we are looking for. Each pillar has a list of questions that we, as a team, have come up with that are all centered around the pillar. The goal is to do a deep dive into each individual, creating a 365-degree picture of the candidate so we can determine if they do indeed raise the bar. What I find interesting are the answers to the questions, and how candidates are able to take the experiences they have and use those to frame the answers they provide. Many times candidates have trouble responding with specific examples and tend to ramble, and not actually answer the question. This is where I think a candidate who spent time at Camp Manitou would excel over many other candidates. While camp provides guardrails, it allows for an incredible amount of freedom within those guardrails.

Many of the candidates I interview have completed internships. While that is great, a common theme among the candidates is that they are given a task, told how to perform it, and then left to finish the task. There appears to be very little freedom or room for independent thinking. On the other hand, if a candidate told me how they managed to get a cabin full of low sophomores to shower, brush their teeth, and get into bed with the lights out on time I would be much more impressed. The skill sets involved in accomplishing that task, especially for an 18, 19, or 20 years old is truly incredible. The fact that counselors are given so much responsibility at such a young age is a game changer. If I ask any JC, Counselor, or even CIT to tell me about a recent project you worked on with a group and how you played a role in the outcome I know that there would be innumerable examples that they can provide.

“Walk me through a time that you took a risk and failed – what did you learn?” is one of my favorite questions to ask. The first thing I think of is a High/Lo College League soccer game that I was a linesman for this past summer. Sam Meiselman was coaching and his team was behind. There was about a minute left in the game, his team was on the attack, and he had his goalie leave the goal and go on offense, leaving an empty net. That was a huge risk, and if his team scored then he would have been a genius. Unfortunately for him the Northwestern forward got the ball, dribbled down the field, and scored on the empty net. It was a great moment for Sam, in my opinion. He showed his team what being a leader was. He took a risk, he took ownership of the decision, and he stood by it. I cannot speak to what he may have learned that day, I know that I gained a huge amount of respect for him.

As JD writes to parents so often, at any given moment ¾ of the camp is not in first place. This is the time when counselors can really make an impact on campers, and develop skills that will help them as they eventually transition into the traditional work world. Color War, College League, Inter-camp, running instructionals all develop highly marketable skills that you cannot gain in an internship. Working late nights to paint a set in the theater is a great example of working on a project with a fixed deadline. Coaching an intermediate Color War soccer team enables you to show situational awareness, teamwork, planning, motivating, the list is endless. As I say all the time when I hear counselors and campers talk about leaving camp for the ‘real world’; stay at camp as long as you can. You will learn more about yourself, about teamwork, about leadership, and see what you can accomplish in 71/2 weeks than you will at an internship. Plus, and trust me on this, it is very hard to find your way back.

Professional Resources

Putting Friendship First: Last spring, this video caught a lot of people’s attention.  Take a moment to watch a unique ending to a high school baseball game.

A Case Study in Competition: During orientation, we invited Dr. Richard Ginsburg to lead group training discussions about communication, teamwork, and trust. Check out his humbling story, “I Got Thrown Out of My Daughters Soccer Game.”


The 2019 staff hiring season begins this month! Do you know someone who will be a terrific addition to our team? Forward them this post and tell them to apply.