“I have regrets about playing it safe.”

Robert Hoops is a walking example of finding what you love and turning it into a career. I met up with him as he was on assignment at Briarcliff Elementary, taking a video about using technology in the classroom. He shares with us what he would have done differently and what he is most proud of thus far.

Name:  Robert Hoops
Age:  34
Current title/company:  Creative Services Coordinator | North KC School District
Location: Kansas City, MO
Education:  Park University: Bachelor of Arts in Theater, Minor in English

Let’s start at the beginning: What was your first job out of college? How did you land it? 

I became an instructional assistant specializing in audio-visual technology at North Kansas City High School’s media center.  Unfortunately, there’s not a very exciting story about landing the job; I found the job description online during my job hunt, applied, interviewed, and landed the gig.

What was the most valuable insight you gained from your education?  

Honing a versatile set of skills combined with getting your hands dirty gaining real-world experience is something you need to begin doing when you’re very young.  Start as soon as you can.

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How did you come into your current position? 

I’d been freelancing as a photographer and visual artist outside of my day job with the school district for a couple of years when this position was created.  The school district saw a need for in-house creative production, so I passionately pursued the position.  Again, getting your hands dirty gaining as much experience as possible is important.  My side-hustle(s) landed me my current day job.

What is a typical workday like for you?

Every day is different.  Some days I’m photographing a fun event at a school, other days I’m designing web graphics and assisting with social media, and yet other days I’m working on months-long video projects to promote a cause to our community.

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What is one thing you wish you had known before you started your Creative Services Coordinator role? 

As a creative person, I have an almost cliché amount of self-doubt in my abilities, to the point where I let it stop me for a few years after college. When I turned 30, I had an epiphany and simply started doing more creative work and getting involved in causes (I’ve served on two nonprofit boards).  So, I suppose my answer is this: I wish I would have believed in myself sooner, and got to work in being a creative beast as soon as possible, instead of letting doubt and excuses keep me in a rut, playing it safe.

Best moment of your career so far? 

Over the summer of 2016, I was tasked with creating a video series for social media that sought to educate citizens about a proposed $114-million-dollar bond measure that would improve and update our schools.  The bond was approved with a voter rating of nearly 82%, and the flagship video I created for the series was awarded first place by the Missouri School Public Relations Association (MOSPRA).

However, I’m the proudest of the work that I’ve continued to accomplish on the side.  I was recently named the 2nd Best Photographer for Hire in The Pitch’s Best of Kansas City 2016, and my apparel line, Scout City, has been featured at Hallmark popups for the past few weeks.  Just recently, a store that I had my heart set on put in an order to begin carrying one of my designs.  Those are the sort of things that make me feel the most fulfilled.  I love being an actively working artist in Kansas City.

How do you balance your full time position and your freelance work?

Thankfully, my day job has a pretty consistent schedule and, in education, you get more time off than you might in other careers.  It’s all a matter of using my time the most efficiently.

What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self? 

If you’re good at something, put EVERYTHING you have into making yourself unstoppable NOW.  Don’t wait.  Invest in these early years.  Also, in creative, I think you have to embrace being different, and knowing that there might be a couple of years where having a secure income is something you’re going to have to trade off in pursuit of honing your passion.  If you’re 21, creative, and doubting your future right now, take my advice.  Commit to it now, because it WILL pay off.  It will.  Live like a starving artist for a year or two.  You’ll meet the right people and develop the right skills while others are sitting in office chairs wondering “what if.”  Don’t wait like I did.  As successful as I may seem, I’ve been spending my 30’s making up for my 20’s.  I have regrets about playing it safe.

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What does your morning routine consist of? 

I have a one-year-old son.  My morning routine looks like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.

In what ways do you hope to see your career evolve in the next five years?  

I want to be in control of those next five years.  I want to surround myself with people who are smarter and more talented than I am in order to make me better at what I do.

What does an ideal day off look like?

Sitting at my desk at home, at peace and focused, drawing on my Wacom tablet or cooking up a creative photo shoot, listening to Temples on repeat, and drinking green tea.

Know a Park alum who would make a great feature? Send your recommendations to careerdevelopment@park.edu