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April 26-27: Mid-Year Training in  Park City, Utah

September 17-19: Annual Conference at the Gold Nugget Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

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Does anyone ever directly choose Parking? I think not, I think we fall into Parking and many would say never get out. That is where a challenge could be thrown. While the entry may not have been an active choice other than a job offer, the journey to stay the path most definitely is. Parking is a ver wonderful career path with many facets.

As a 17 year university industry veteran I have been involved in budgets, permit sales, appeals, enforcement, maintenance, events and some construction. Oh, and for sure customer service, problem solving and conflict management. Not everyone moves around in their respective departments. However, if you haven’t I highly recommend it. Let me explain a little about why it is recommended for one you will never feel stagnant in your job, you will always have new experiences and for sure a deeper global understanding of all that “parking” is and for two there is so many avenues to explore in order to find your personal fit. Here is another piece of food for thought, while it will most likely be expected for you to go to work every day you can be sure that while some day to day functions are the same, each day provides new interactions and situations to keep the mind fresh.

As a university employee and employer hiring a large student staff has been not only very rewarding for our department but them as well. As previously said often we “fall” into the industry. I can think of some of our student staff that have transitioned into the industry on a more permanent basis than a college job level. Even more if not all that have come back or have  kept in contact will still say without a doubt “parking” was the best job they have ever had. There are many reasons for this the biggest is the connection to the other co-workers; a close second will be the conflict management and de-escalation skills that transfer to any other type of employment possible. In addition to this being the most fun job they have ever had. Let me tell you they don’t feel like that in the beginning. Most stay through their college career and have an amazing transferable opportunity.

With all the opportunity no matter where one falls within the organization one of the biggest lessons that has been imparted to me over the years so therefore is imparted to our front line staff is to get involved. Cross train, learn all that someone is willing to teach you. Take a class, join a webinar, go to a conference, gain industry and work knowledge. Parking is so much more than lines a vehicle parks between.

Darby Garcia
Assistant Director, Northern Arizona University
Member of the SWPTA Board of Directors
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SWPTA Blog: August

I moved to Phoenix in September of 2010. I remember it vividly. It was September 1st and the temperature was 115 degrees. I could not believe anyone could live in these conditions. And lo and behold, here I am seven years later…still not believing anyone can live in these conditions. Phoenix has been altogether rewarding experience, especially as it relates to my growth in the parking world. And I’d attribute a great deal of that reward to my involvement in the Southwest Parking and Transportation Association.

My first SWPTA conference was in 2010 in Phoenix. That’s where I first met the rowdy crew from ASU, a young parking professional who was just getting ready to move to Vegas and change the world, and a group of parking geeks that loved everything desert. I knew I was in the right place when my speaker gift was a margarita mix kit…these folks know how to shake things up a bit!

Over the past 7 years, SWPTA has helped me build a large network of parkinggeeks in the southwest and across the country. I’ve had many great educational opportunities and hopefully have imparted some knowledge someone else can use. I would recommend this group to anyone who’s even thinking about getting involved in parking. And you don’t have to be a desert rat to be a member, we are welcoming and open to partners from all over the globe!

For those on the fence considering SWPTA as an organization, here are a few things to consider:

  1. The conference is like no other. The emphasis in years past has been to move to an open and interactive format. You won’t feel like looking at your phone during any sessions here…you’ll be too actively engaged to look down!
  2. The board has started to bring this message to our peers, using lunch and learns and our educational mid-year to engage local parking professionals who might not have the ability to make a regional or national conference. We know that our front-line staff is the next wave of parking leaders, and we do everything we can to actively promote their education.
  3. Our network is strong and diverse – including vendors on the cutting edge of technology, consultants with a wealth of knowledge in all things parking, municipal and university parking staff who are well versed in all things management, and a growing base of young professionals eager to make a name for themselves in parking.
  4. We know how to have fun. Plain and simple, SWPTA is the funnest parking organization on the planet (no hyperbole…). When I was president, our networking event was a parking meter scavenger hunt through downtown Las Vegas that culminated in a night at a landmark Vegas dive bar with entertainment by Carlos Santana…top that!


So, over the past 7 years I’ve learned the true value of SWPTA. It’s networking, learning, imparting knowledge, and having fun with your peers. And I’d urge anyone who’s thinking of joining a parking organization to meet us in Vegas this September for another round of parking geek fun!

Brett Wood
Kimley-Horn and Associates


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