Will Elting

Graduation Year: 2010

What City/ State are you from? Oneonta, NY

What City/ State to you currently live in? Portland, ME

Current Career Title: BikeMaine Ride Director

Business/ Organization you work for: Bicycle Coalition of Maine

What was your Major? Parks, Recreation, & Ecotourism

Did you start and finish your degree at Unity College or did you transfer in to Unity?  If you transferred in, where from and why? I transferred in, after completing 3 semesters at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, 1 Semester at Oneonta State University in Oneonta, NY, and 1 NOLS semester in Baja, Mexico. The NOLS semester really changed my life, and my perspective on what I wanted out of a college education. Traditional programs weren’t really clicking for me, and I was craving more of the experiential, outdoors programs I got at NOLS. After looking around, Unity seemed like a great choice so I kind of went out on a limb and transferred (in the middle of winter, no less), and fell in love with the school and with Maine.

What was your favorite thing about your time at Unity College? Did you have a favorite tradition? I really liked the small size of the school, and the camaraderie that that fosters amongst students, teachers, and staff. I loved being on a first name basis with teachers, and not feeling like some anonymous face in a sea of students. I guess I wasn’t much for traditions, but really enjoyed my winter NOVA expedition: snowshoeing at Lake George State Park, as well as intramural soccer and ultimate frisbee. And, of course, the CRAP Crew.

What advice would you give to current Unity College students? Spend as much time outside as you can. Find ways to give back to the community and get involved. Take chances and seize the day.  

Where did you complete your internship(s) and what types of experiences did you have? I completed one internship, and it was actually at Camp Pasquaney, the summer camp I grew up attending. I was a counselor there for 4 summers, and my final summer I did my internship. I probably could have put myself out there more and gotten a more ambitious internship, but I have a great loyalty to the camp, and I did learn a ton about the operation of it and drafted a sustainability plan that implemented a few key changes in the way they handle recycling and compost.  

Is your current job in your field of study, or did you end up going a different direction than you thought? Yes

Tell us a little about your current job and what it entails: BikeMaine is a week-long bicycle tour that brings 450 riders from across the country and the globe to explore a different region of Maine every year. We partner with new towns across the state to host the event each year, and plan not just amazing riding routes, but interesting cultural activities, entertainment, and menus featuring delicious local food. As the Ride Director, I oversee virtually all aspects of the event, from budgeting, marketing, and registration, to route planning, safety, vendor and site logistics, and volunteer coordination. It’s a lot of management of different stakeholders, creative problem solving, and allows me to travel a lot within Maine, which I love. I have a great team of people who I work with at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, including an all-volunteer committee that provides a great sounding board for all sorts of crazy ideas.

Are you happy in your current career? I’ve only been with the Coalition for 14 months or so, and have only just taken over as Ride Director, so it’s all rather fresh but, yes, I do really love the job. I’m a huge proponent of bicycle travel, and being able to showcase this amazing state for a diverse group of cyclists from around the world is a dream come true. The event has a history of Unity College connections, as well. One of the previous Ride Directors was a Unity grad, and Gary Zane has participated as a rider a number of times. Also, in 2017 the route went through Unity and the Barn Raisers hosted a lunch for the riders.  

Is there anything you would have done differently education wise? That’s a complicated question. There are always things you wish you had done better, tests you should have studied more for, people you wish you had connected with more. Considering I went to three different colleges, I definitely had some false starts and dead ends along the way. Looking at the whole, though, I am really happy with how things have turned out, so if I could go back I wouldn’t change much. I probably would have skied more.

Did you feel Unity College prepared you for your career? Yes. Certainly the curriculum of my major was uniquely tailored for the recreation and tourism business I now find myself in. Beyond that, though, just spending time with classmates and instructors who were excited about the outdoor industry and doing cool stuff outside was inspiring and opened my mind to a broader range of career opportunities that informed how I approached entering the job market.

If you haven’t already, are you considering graduate school down the road? I completed a Graduate Certificate program for Nonprofit Management at USM’s Muskie School 5 or 6 years ago. It was a great program, and I’d recommend it for any Unity grad who is thinking about entering the nonprofit sector.