How cool would it be to find the oldest living human being, or the shortest woman on the planet?
About two years ago, Kimberly Partrick, a recent college grad working as paralegal, saw a job posted online at Guinness World Records and thought it sounded too good to be true.
Thank goodness she decided to apply anyway.
The job, said Partrick, 26, “seemed like a perfect fit for my interests and love for travel.”
She is now the record manager for the company and has been able to officiate at records broken in everything from TV watching marathons to parrot births.
The photo to the left is of Kim judging the most macaws born at a single facility in one year. The facility, located at Xcaret Park in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, set the record by birthing 105 macaws in 2009.
With this post, I’m bringing back a popular CareerDiva series called “Quirky Jobs” where I interview individuals with interesting gigs and ask them about their jobs. (If you have any suggestions for a Quirky Jobs profiles just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Q. How did you get into this line of work?
A. By paying close attention to openings posted online, really! I noticed the posting for a records manager position, which really sounded too good to be true. Luckily, it wasn’t.
Q. What education do you have?
A. B.A. in English Literature, French & Linguistics
Q. What training do you need?
A. The most important training we receive is learning the many rules of what is or is not a record, and thinking creatively to determine the right record for a particular client or activity. As an example, as much as I might have previously thought that something like “fastest painter” would be an interesting record, it’s important for a records manager to understand that due to the impossibility of defining or standardizing the concept of art or what would qualify as a painting for a speed record, our art records must be limited to quantifiable achievements such as the largest or longest painting. We also shadow on adjudications to get the idea of how record breaking attempts run and what we as the adjudicator must see in order to approve a record. This part of the process exposes us to the “real world” arena of record breaking – both the thrill of a live record attempt as well as dealing with the unexpected. Once we have mastered the realm of records and learned how an adjudication works, we are media trained so that we are then ready to embark on our own adjudications. Since these are done solo, it is even more important that we be properly prepared before heading out. For the records management team, specifically, we are also required to speak at least one foreign language, so that we have as many languages as possible available to claimants around the world.
Q. What’s the best and worst part of the job?
A. The best part is definitely the diversity of the day-to-day in a job like this. The tasks may repeat themselves, but each record attempt and record breaker is unique. It’s hard to get burned out when you may end up coming to work and watching a video of the largest game of dodgeball or the fastest time to solve a Rubik’s cube blindfolded. When it comes to adjudications, each one is an opportunity to experience one of these records coming to life, always after an incredible amount of hard work from the organizers. Not to mention that it is a wonderful opportunity to see places I might never otherwise have the opportunity to visit. The worst part is the unfortunate necessity of rejecting a record attempt, especially when I am there in person. When I attend an adjudication, I meet the record attempters or organizers personally, and see firsthand how much effort has gone into organizing the attempt and how passionate they are about achieving the record. Normally it is a very straightforward situation such as simply not having enough people to break the record, but even in these cases it is tough to have to be the person who has to break the news that unfortunately a record has not been set.
Q. Share a funny story about a particular record that was broken?
A. One of my more memorable adjudications was for the longest marathon watching television, put on by 20th Century Fox for the release of the “24” full series box set. Participants were attempting to watch enough of the series (in order of course) to beat the existing record of 86 hours. As you can imagine, spending that long watching Jack Bauer and company with limited breaks and no sleep began to wear on the contestants. The organizers had medics on staff to ensure that everyone was doing all right and to remove them if they deemed it necessary. As it turned out, the most important and telling question they would ask to participants as they went through the room was, “Who is the current President of the United States?” If a contestant responded, as happened more than a few times, with “David Palmer!” or a different fictional President from the show, the doctor would remove them from competition. In the end, three contestants emerged victorious with a new record of 86 hours 6 minutes, which is nearly 4 full days without sleep.
Q. What personality traits do you think someone needs for this gig?
A. Patience, critical and creative thinking, professional demeanor (especially under pressure), comfort with public speaking, ability to think and solve on the fly, a healthy sense of adventure
Q. What did they plan on becoming when you graduated? Was this in the plan?
A. Personally, my plan in college consisted of studying what I enjoyed learning about. After college, I became a paralegal for a time before learning about the opening at Guinness World Records, which seemed like a perfect fit for my interests and love for travel.
Q. Any other gig tidbits you want to share?
A. The photo is from my adjudication of the record for the most macaws born in a single facility in one year, at Xcaret Park in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The record they set was 105 macaws born in 2009. This feat is all the more impressive, as I learned, because macaws are one of the few species that mate for life, meaning that the breeders need to pay close attention to the relationships developing between macaws in order to determine who may or may not be a good match for one another.