Opportunity is out there! No matter what your interest may be: video games, cupcakes, robots, or roller coasters, you can make it your job! Meet Professor Roller Coaster, learn how he got his name, and find out how you can turn your passion into your career. 

My name is Dr. Martin Lewison and I’m an associate professor of Business Management in the School of Business at Farmingdale State College, where I’m now in my 11th year as a faculty member. I received my undergraduate degree in economics at Columbia, spent some time studying graduate economics at the University of Minnesota, and then did a Ph.D. in business at the University of Pittsburgh.  
You may have heard the saying, “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Well, what about riding roller coasters? I’ve been persistent and lucky enough to orient my career to face the things that really interest me in life, which happen to be visiting theme parks and riding roller coasters! Since 2007, my wife Cheryl and I have visited over 800 different amusement parks, theme parks, fairs, family entertainment centers, and other amusement facilities across 38 countries on five different continents. My wife and I have ridden about 2,200 different roller coasters across the world with each other. 
What does this have to do with my career? Well, after spending some time on Wall Street, I decided to take a position teaching accounting and finance at Hotelschool The Hague, which is a college of hotel and hospitality management in the Netherlands. The school offers a Bachelor's degree in hospitality management along with other advanced degrees. I wanted to work with professors and students who were interested in travel, tourism, hotels, and restaurants. I also used the opportunity to travel throughout Europe and Asia, visiting theme parks and riding roller coasters. I began doing research on how theme parks create their pricing strategies, and I looked at how amusement parks could benefit from more sophisticated pricing techniques. I was able to give talks on the subject, and it generated interest from the industry, the media, and other scholars.  
Eventually, I came back home to New York and began my career at Farmingdale State College, where I’ve taught marketing, international marketing, advertising, American business history, and strategic management. I published research about theme park pricing, and I attracted the attention of newspaper reporters who covered the attractions industry. I got the reputation of an expert in the industry, and a New York Times article called me “Professor Roller Coaster.” I even  became a paid consultant with theme parks, investors, and other consultants who wanted me to share my expertise, and I began offering a course on Theme Parks at Farmingdale! 
I recently returned from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo, which is the largest trade show and conference in the amusement industry. It is held annually in November in Orlando, Florida, the theme park capital of the world. The IAAPA Expo brings all the theme parks, their suppliers, and media coverage of the industry together in an amazing place to see how the amusement industry operates.  It is also a great place to learn from industry experts from everywhere from Splish Splash to Dollywood. 
I saw Andrew Wexler, the CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, owners of Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, and the Harlem Globetrotters, describe how the company’s corporate strategy is deeply rooted in a philosophy of bringing families closer together. I also saw Tom Mehrmann, President and Chief Operating Officer for Universal Parks and Resorts in the Pacific Rim (Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Singapore, Universal Studios Japan, and Universal Studios Beijing), and heard him explain his ten principles of leadership in the attractions industry like “Collect Data Wherever Possible as a Tool for Management Decisions” and “Always Be Relevant to Your Guests.”   
 I also got to hear Long Island native Chip Charry tell the amazing story of his career. He told us everything from starting as a worker at Adventureland in the 1980’s to his conceptualization and creation of Splish Splash in Riverhead. He also spoke about selling and becoming a Senior VP of the largest chain of water parks in the United States, eventually taking the role as a senior consultant for Europa-Park, the biggest and most successful theme park in Europe only after Disneyland Paris Resort, for the last 10 years. 
And if that weren’t enough, the whipped cream and cherry on the top for me was the opportunity to chair this year’s 5th Annual Themed Experience and Attractions Academic Symposium on the last day of the IAAPA Expo. The symposium had both students and professors alike lining up to hear superb guest speakers from all over the world discuss their scholarship and research related to the theme park and attraction industry.  For me, it was like being a kid in a candy store .  
I hope that the point here is clear: In every interest you have, there is opportunity. There are jobs in every field, and there are even jobs that haven’t  been made up yet. I didn’t know that I could be “Professor Roller Coaster!” You can do or be whatever or whoever you dream up. The world is full of opportunities, and you need to make sure to take the opportunities that are before you. And if you don’t see the opportunities, make the opportunities. Your professors are here to support and encourage you. You just need to have the will, grit, and determination to bring your dreams to fruition.