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Teri Morkunas, CAPP
I first became a parking manager in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1995. During my tenure, I attended several one-day management seminars, which did not have a concentrated curriculum related to parking. As a result, the instructor spoke in general terms relating to all industries. While I learned much about management in general, I was disappointed that the seminars addressed no parking trends. In order to become more marketable, I needed a curriculum specifically related to parking.
I moved to the Washington DC Metro area in 1997. I secured a position with the parking contractor at Washington Dulles International Airport as a shift manager. I settled into my new position and life in about a year. I purchased my first computer and got online. I did a Web search of the word "parking;" this is how I found IPI. I subscribed to The Parking Professional magazine and signed up to receive e-mails to keep up with parking news. I also read about the Certified Administrator of Public Parking (CAPP) Program. I was already a Certified Parking Facility Manager (CPFM) and thought the CAPP would enhance my skill set and, hopefully, lead to a better position within the parking industry.
My first endeavor was to attend the CAPP class in Philadelphia during the summer of 1999. Since Philadelphia is close to my home, I thought that it would not cost much to attend (I was using my own funds and I wanted to save money.) Driving (instead of purchasing an expensive plane ticket) saved me a considerable amount. I was only looking into the program, and was not quite ready to commit. I attended the "Training Your Parking Employee" two-day seminar. At the time, I did not realize this trip was going to be a life-changing experience.
On the first day, I met a wonderful gentleman who made me feel at home. He was already a CAPP candidate so he introduced me to others as they arrived. Everyone was very friendly and made me feel welcome. Class began and our instructor was none other than our own Kim Jackson, CAPP. The training focused on managing employees in a parking environment and it proved to be exactly the type of class instruction that I was looking for. Jackson was an awesome instructor and made the class very enjoyable.
The next two days opened up the whole world of parking for me. I have been in the parking industry for over 15 years but at that time, was new to management. I had never realized just how big the parking business is. I knew about urban parking and parking at airports but, I was amazed to learn about the parking at universities and all of the vendors who provide all of the products and services we use in parking.
I was hooked. Over the next 30 days, I prepared my CAPP application. I never realized how much I accomplished in my life until I had to write it down. Since I have no college degree, I was not sure I would be accepted. My experience came from working through the ranks.
I gained acceptance into the program in September 1999. This was an excellent decision especially since the CAPP Program gives you up to five years from the date of acceptance to complete the program and test.
The Philadelphia session counted as a CAPP class. My next two-day session took place in Atlanta, followed by a three-day session in Kansas City, Missouri. Because the Kansas City class was a three-day session, it was counted as double credit. Then came my first five-day mandatory session, which was the Management class in Las Vegas. The five-day session provided a wealth of knowledge in management that is mostly likely unavailable anywhere else. During the class breaks, all of the CAPP candidates attended the expo to see the latest trends and products for the parking industry. I was amazed at all of the vendors that support the parking and transportation industry. During the earlier sessions, only a few vendors attended, but I think everyone who sells anything to the parking industry attended the Las Vegas conference and expo.
In June 2004, I attended my second mandatory five-day session in New Orleans as well as my final CAPP class before testing. This class discussed financing parking facilities, construction and various aspects of revenue control. This session was an eye opener as well. After this five day session, I was eligible for testing to become a full-fledged CAPP.
Five years had passed and this was the day I had been working for. My manager, as well as others with whom I worked, had traveled to New Orleans for the conference. The pressure was on for me to pass the test the first time around. The night before the exam, I ordered room service for dinner and locked myself in my hotel room with all of the materials and notes from all of the classes. The test is a total of four-and-a-half-hours and comprised of two parts: the first two hours are multiple choice, true and false and short answers. The remaining two-and-a-half hours are for the essay questions. As with any major test, it is a very demanding exam; you really need to know your stuff. It is definitely not a test that one would pass if they had not gone through the CAPP Program. However nerve-racking it was to complete the exam, the waiting for the results is even worse. I kept going over the questions in my head. Did I answer this one correctly or did I provide enough information on the essay questions? After what seemed like an eternity, I received my results - I PASSED!!
Graduation was that night and I was one of about seven who had who graduated. My classmates chose me to speak for the entire class on the CAPP Program and its benefits. It was one of the best nights of my life.
I recommend this program for anyone who wants to enhance his or her knowledge of the parking industry. The CAPP Program has opened up a whole new and different world to me, not just professionally but personally. I expanded my knowledge of parking and some of the supporting industries as well. Additionally, when clients or colleagues see CAPP next to your name, these credentials assure them that you are an accomplished parking manager. The CAPP Program enabled me to travel to places that I probably would not have visited and allowed me to meet people and make friends that I never would have. It has been one of my favorite and greatest adventures.
Teri Morkunas, CAPP, is the Assistant General Manager, Operations for Five Star - U Street Parking at Dulles International Airport. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.572.4584.