Up Close: Profile of the Concessions Manager of Hersheypark
"If you’re kind and responsible and committed, you move up relatively quickly and learn about being a leader at a very young age - it’s one of the best opportunities for young adults and teens in the area!"
Pssssst. Want to know a little secret? The creator of the award-winning, mouth-watering, some may say life-changing – King Size Shake has worked at Hersheypark since she was 14-years-old. As Olivia Haist, Concessions Manager of Hersheypark, just finished her 15th summer of serving up sweetness, she’s almost as well-known for her food-themed earrings as she is for her unique shakes.
When you talk to Olivia you instantly notice the passion and enthusiasm she has for her team and her job. She thrives on mentoring her employees and takes great pride in helping them grow both personally and professionally. Combine all that with the fact that her “office” consists of roller coasters and ice cream makes this her dream job.
Between her King Size Shake brainstorming meetings and serving up sweet treats, I was lucky enough to chat with Olivia. We talked about why she’s worked at Hersheypark for many years, her biggest accomplishment and of course, her favorite King Size Shake, among other topics. I hope you enjoy learning about the aptly named Milkshake Maven!
Does a job where you get to create happiness and have fun sound sweet? Join Olivia and team for the Hersheypark and Giant Center Job Fair on Wednesday, September 18 from 3-7 p.m. at Giant Center. Applicants can apply, interview and be hired on the spot! For more information and to secure your interview time, visit Hersheypark.com/Jobs.
Q) Tell us about your career. Where did you go to school? What was your career path prior to joining Hershey?
A) I have known Hersheypark and only Hershey! I’ve worked a few other side jobs along the way but I always stuck with Hersheypark because I've never found a team that feels quite like the Concessions team. Having started at such a young age, I grew up with so many of these people and in this fun environment. I couldn't imagine not hearing roller coasters every day or not being able to jump in and swirl ice cream cones whenever I get the impulse. Even though it has changed a lot over the years, I think I've always changed with it and it just feels exactly where I belong.
Q) Walk us through your career so far at Hershey.
A) I started when I was 14, and am so glad I was randomly assigned to an ice cream stand. It turns out if you’re kind and responsible and committed, you move up relatively quickly and learn about being a leader at a very young age - it’s one of the best opportunities for young adults and teens in the area! I transitioned into a full-time role on the Concessions team when I was 23, which led me to overseeing the front area of the Park. Honestly, at first I wasn’t thrilled to be in the area of the Park that was the first to open and the last to close! However, that position allowed me to take on opening of the new Simply Chocolate and later Chick-fil-A. In my current role as Concessions Manager of Hersheypark, I have the opportunity to take all that I’ve learned and impact a much larger team.
Q) Why did you choose to work for Hershey?
A) When I was young it seemed like everyone in my family and at my school was working at Hersheypark so I didn’t think twice about it. I’m just lucky I happened to join an ice cream team!
Q) What's your biggest accomplishment since joining the Hershey team?
A) I am so crazy proud of the King Size Shakes, but so much of what made them successful was my team’s ability to deliver them consistently. It’s not easy to get an entire team to make your dreams come true. To this day, I can still walk in Simply Chocolate and hear them say “Have a sweet day!” as they hand our guests Instagram-worthy shakes.
Q) What's your favorite King Size Shake to eat and/or make?
A) My favorite King Size Shake is our frozen hot chocolates we offer during Christmas Candylane because they’ve been a little different every year. I love themes, so when I work with Chef Courtney to design the toppers, we always imagine them as edible snow globe scenes. Plus the flavor of the frozen hot chocolate is the richest one we have - it’s so good that it can make drinking a giant milkshake outside in the winter seem like a totally normal thing!
Q) What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?
A) Having been with the Concessions team for so long, I’ve had so many opportunities to see young kids experience their first job with us. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to watch them grow over a few years into strong leaders and prepare themselves to take on the world. I often say that anyone could make money selling food at Hersheypark - but our real job as leaders of the Concessions team is to mold and mentor the community’s next work force.
Q) What advice would you give someone interested in a career in the food and beverage industry?
A) You’ve got to be passionate about it! Working in the food and beverage industry can be very stressful so you have to be able to easily find the joy in serving people (your employees and guests) and taking on the responsibility of sweetening their day. If you can do that, it can absolutely be the most rewarding job. It's also important to remember that there's no such thing as a bad idea and what might seem completely wild can spark something brilliant in someone else's mind. This industry changes so quickly so you have to be able to respond and react quickly to be truly innovative, while taking advantage of team brainstorming sessions - even if it starts off silly it can often lead to something great!
Q) What's the best perk of your job?
A) I get to meet so many different people, whether it’s the guests we’re serving, the teenagers that come back to work summer after summer, leaders from other departments and entities, or other industry leaders around the country. When I think about the network of people I’ve created, I’m amazed by how many different resources I have at my fingertips to help me solve problems or come up with creative ideas.
Q) What does a typical day consist of?
A) I haven’t worked a typical day since 2011! Every single day is different for me but most consistently I spend time surrounded by my team or our guests doing what I can to make their days sweeter. On especially busy days, I will spend nearly 100% of my time in the operation - walking through the Park and seeing what problems I can solve, jumping in to speed up a line, clean up a patio or coach a new team member. The busy days are my favorite because it's a good excuse to keep me out of the office and in the Park where the fun is happening!
Q) Tell us something folks might not know about you.
A) I spend so much time thinking about how fortunate I am to be surrounded by a team that gives me the space I need to bring my most authentic self to work. I can get pretty emotional about it because it’s incredible the impact that it can have! I am super grateful that I’m in a place where I am allowed to bring my whole self to work each day.