From Camp Walt Whitman to Indeed: Why Being a Camp Counselor is the Best Job Ever
Five years since he worked as the Athletic Director of Camp Walt Whitman, Michael Brett still credits his summers at camp as the best preparation for succeeding at Indeed, the country’s top job site.
Brett joined Indeed in 2018 and is now their lead sales strategist, but he originally majored in Recreation and Sports Management at the University of Tennessee. To prepare for his career plans at the time, he worked as a marketing intern for a semi-pro hockey team, which seemed like the best possible experience on paper. In reality, he walked away with very little hands-on training. “You’re such a small cog in a large wheel,” he said of working in this corporate setting.
Then a professor familiar with Camp Walt Whitman encouraged him to work as a basketball specialist there the following summer, in 2013. Coming from the south, where sleepaway camp is not as popular as it is in the Northeast, camp was unfamiliar territory. But Brett thrived in the all-hands-on-deck environment.
“My responsibilities and what I did at the internship were so much smaller and less influential than the daily responsibilities I had at camp,” he said.
During the subsequent four years he spent at Camp Walt Whitman, going from specialist to Athletic Director, Brett became a pro at running meetings, planning events, developing lesson plans, and, just as importantly, changing course on a dime.
“When you’re at camp, you’re never asked whose responsibility something is.” If it rains, for instance, and the lesson you planned is no longer possible, it’s up to you to think of an alternate activity.
After he returned home that first summer away, his father could see the transformation. “I still remember, I’d been home a week and he said, ‘You’re a different person, you’re so much more confident.’”
It may not be intuitive how planning a bunk night for 10 people, or a group night for an entire age group will be useful in your career, but, said Brett, “when I’m working on a project at Indeed, it’s the exact same thing where I’m setting up a plan and it’s my job to make sure that every single person here knows what they’re supposed to be doing when they’re supposed to be doing it and how they’re supposed to be doing it. … You do that at camp every single day.”
His time at Camp Walt Whitman did not just impact his career; it’s how he met his wife.
“We got engaged on the front lawn,” said Brett. Today they live together in Connecticut, where they are still close with all their camp families.
“Camp is so much a part of my life, to this day.”