UM Today UM Today University of Manitoba UM Today UM Today UM Today
News from
Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management
UM Today Network

‘Nowhere else I’d rather spend my summer’

Being a Mini U Supervisor positively impacted Neil Noonan's life. Maybe it could do the same for you!

January 9, 2018 — 

Neil Noonan was an 11-year Mini U Programs veteran, with his last five years in the position of supervisor. Now an alumnus, he opens up about his experience as Mini U Supervisor and how it’s shaped the person he is today.  


It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond. This is a lesson I have some first-hand experience with.

I didn’t get the supervisor job with Mini U the first time I applied for it.

Despite having worked at Mini U for six summers in multiple positions, it turned out I just wasn’t ready to don the coveted blue polo t-shirt.

Was I upset? Absolutely. After being unsuccessful in my application,  I had no intention of going back the following summer. I updated my résumé, scrolled through job postings, and asked my friends to put in a good word for me. This was my first time actually searching for a job, because Mini U was all I knew since middle school.

“Looking back, that summer was a turning point in my life.”

It didn’t take long for my bitterness to fade. I couldn’t help but think there was still nowhere else I’d rather spend my summer than at Mini U—regardless if I was a supervisor or not. Looking back, that summer was a turning point in my life. The decision I made to come back and re-apply to be a supervisor led me to the path I’m on now.

As much as the initial rejection left an impression on me, my first summer as a supervisor impacted me more. I was out of my comfort zone, not because of the people or the environment, but because I was introduced to an entirely different side of Mini U. I not only got to see how everything was done behind the scenes, but I had the opportunity to develop new ideas and to be a part of decision making.

“I felt challenged, but more importantly, I felt equipped to take on those challenges.”

I learned a lot my first summer as a supervisor. I felt challenged, but more importantly, I felt equipped to take on those challenges. The training and discussions we had as a team prepared me to navigate through whatever the day had to offer. Sure, I asked my peers a ton of questions, but ultimately, I was put into a position to succeed.

This probably doesn’t happen in every workplace. The safe, fun-loving work environment Mini U provides can be hard to come by. I say that because sometimes being a supervisor didn’t feel like a real job. Whether it was coming up with new games, or thinking of creative ways to help a child, I would catch myself sometimes and think as if I’m getting paid to do this.

The relationships I made in that tiny office each summer are ones I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. It’s the people that make Mini U special. You get to know a group of people so well that it’s difficult not to leave summer without making a few new best friends and mentors.

To have a team come together and accomplish something every single day and help make a difference for thousands of children and their families each summer, you can’t get anything better than that. And I don’t want you to miss out on it.

If any of this sounds good to you, apply to be a supervisor a Mini U. You’re going to get an opportunity to challenge yourself, meet an unreal group of people, and grow in an encouraging environment.

Apply to join the Mini U Programs leadership team today at




One comment on “‘Nowhere else I’d rather spend my summer’

  1. David Horbaty

    Great job Neil I’m glad this job is good I look forward to seeing you every summer when I go to mini u you bring energy that could not be replicated by any other supervisor you always give me a good outlook on camp and you always make me feel at home at mini u. I look forward to seeing you in the future


    David Horbaty

    P.S I am going to send this to Sheila and she will be excited

    PP.S you are an inspiration and my dream job would be the job you do as a member of the media especially sports media

Comments have been closed.

© University of Manitoba • Winnipeg, Manitoba • Canada • R3T 2N2

Emergency: 204-474-9341