Up Close: Profile of the Director of Attractions for Hersheypark
For most people, when you land a job that you love and is fun you don’t leave. That’s how it was for Jeremy Underkoffler, Director of Attractions for Hersheypark. He has been working in the Park for more than 15 years. His journey started out as a part-time Rides Clerk, and today is helping to lead the entire Attractions department.
What makes his job so much fun? Hint: part of his job includes riding roller coasters! What has kept him here after all these years? When did his love for Hersheypark begin? Read on to find out. Between his coaster rides and training team members, I had the chance to talk about his evolving career.
Would you like a job where you get to ride roller coasters and help create sweet memories for our guests? Join us at the Hersheypark Job Fair on Wednesday, February 19 from 3-7 pm. More information may be found here.
Q) Tell us about your career. Where did you go to school? What was your career path prior to joining Hershey?
A) I graduated from Central Dauphin High School in 2005, and from Penn State University Capital Campus in 2010. In 2003, I decided to apply for a Rides Clerk position at Hersheypark. My path to find Hershey was a quick one!
Q) Walk us through your career so far at Hershey.
A) For many years throughout high school and college, I mostly worked the summer season within the Ride Operations Department. I worked in multiple positions, including Ride Lead, Rides Group Supervisor and Ride Supervisor. In 2009, I became the Aquatics Management Trainee, and as a result, I changed departments from Rides to Aquatics. This was a step out of my comfort zone for sure, but was definitely worth it! In 2010, I began my true "career" by accepting an Area Manager role within the Rides Department. I worked in this role for three years before accepting the position of Manager of Attractions. After four additional years of learning and growing, I became Assistant Director of Attractions. One year later I became the Director of Attractions. It has been a wild ride and I have enjoyed every minute of it!
Q) Why did you choose to work for Hershey?
A) Hersheypark has been part of my family since I was born. My dad worked in the maintenance department for many years, and he’s been a big influence in all aspects of my life. Growing up, I spent countless summer nights waiting for the Park to clear, while sitting in the maintenance shop talking with the maintenance crews. Once I became an employee here I always felt it was one big family. Over the years, the people have changed, but the culture has not. I was always drawn to the people - both the guests and the employees. As I grew, I learned more about Milton Hershey's legacy and the students at Milton Hershey School. This has been a constant source of motivation and pride.
"Once I became an employee here I always felt it was one big family. Over the years, the people have changed, but the culture has not."
Q) What's your biggest accomplishment since joining the Hershey team?
A) Over the years, I have had the opportunity to be a part of installing new rides, programs and procedures. One of my favorite projects has been to enhance and grow our Fast Track program. Over the past few years, the program has grown from simply an idea to re-creating our ride queue lines and operating procedures. It has not only been a huge success, but I have formed many new relationships with people I would not normally work with!
Q) What's your favorite ride at Hersheypark?
A) My favorite ride is Great Bear, but I have a feeling that could change later in 2020!
Q) What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?
A) Seeing people that I have hired grow in their careers. Some have moved on to other parks throughout the country, and to see them grow within the industry is very rewarding. Also, helping to create all of our guests' memories day in and day out is an extremely rewarding part of my job.
Q) What advice would you give someone interested in a career in amusement parks?
A) Meet new people and retain those relationships. When I first began as an Area Manager my manager at the time ingrained this culture into my head, and I continue to focus on this a decade later. The people that you meet and interact with today will make your job and life that much better tomorrow.
Q) What's the best perk of your job?
A) I would be lying if I didn't say, being able to come to work and ride a roller coaster to wake myself up in the morning!
Q) What does a typical day consist of?
A) On a normal summer day, I spend the majority of my time interacting with the attractions management team as well as our front line staff. Whether this is through coaching opportunities or walking the Park and assisting guests, it is never a dull day. Throughout the winter, I have the opportunity to continue to plan and grow our facility for the future through collaboration with all of the other operational departments.
Q) Tell us something folks might not know about you.
A) During time away from work, I enjoy spending time with family, traveling, brewing beer and enjoying sporting events. For a few years, I even had season tickets to the Washington Capitals and would spend 2-3 nights a week in Washington D.C., while still making sure I was back at work on time!