Eight years ago, 16-year-old Zach Peterson started his Valleyfair career as a seasonal associate in the games department to spend more time with his friends - what he didn’t realize was that his casual summer job would turn into a career.
It all started back in 2010, Zach applied to work in the Games Department after some encouragement by his best friend, Cody, who already worked at Valleyfair the previous summer. Zach followed in his friend's footsteps and started his first summer job.
He enjoyed the job so much he continued to come back to work at Valleyfair even after Cody moved on to another position. Zach picked up extra shifts in the preseason and offseason to learn more about warehouse management and shipping processes.
The fun atmosphere of the park kept Zach coming back season after season. “I used to come in before my shift and ride Wild Thing or Renegade. I’m one of those weirdos who wait in line by myself and then ride it by myself,” Zach said, "It's hard not to be happy while working at Valleyfair."
Staying at Valleyfair forever was never a long-term plan for Zach. He started attending Dakota County Tech for their GM automotive program to learn how to rebuild engines. After a short stint at school, Zach realized he didn’t want to turn his hobby into a full-time career so he began working odd jobs while debating his future career path.
Zach would spend each winter working a new job to learn about that specific field. “I was curious about how a car wash worked, so I got a job to learn more about them,” Zach said, “It has been an interesting journey but I’ve learned a lot working in different fields.” A liquor store clerk, a concrete construction specialist, car wash supervisor, and a farm hand are just a few of the many jobs that Zach tried.
When Zach saw the position of Games Manager pop up on the Valleyfair website, he knew he had to apply. Zach was offered the position at the age of 22 years old and has been at Valleyfair ever since.
“I realize that most people will not have the same journey that I had,” Zach said, “Most people probably are not going to stay in games forever but being a seasonal associate was a great way to learn leadership and organizational skills that launched my career.”
He now oversees the inventory for both games and merchandise during the operating season and offseason. Zach credits his work ethic to his experience at Valleyfair. Zach learned key skills such as inventory, point of sale systems, product development, and purchasing while working in the Games department.
“There are just so many different opportunities here and if you express interest we’re going to put you to the test,” Zach said, “I had a few kids in the games department who wanted to learn more about warehouse management so I gave them all shifts in the warehouse and now one of them is a manager at ULINE.”
Zach would encourage anyone looking for a fun summer job to apply and work in the Games Department. “We realize you might not spend the rest of your life working in Merch and Games at Valleyfair but it is a great resume builder and you gain so much on the job work experience,” Zach said.
Zach’s favorite ride is Renegade and his favorite game prize is the highly anticipate Squishmallow, which will be coming to Valleyfair for the 2018 season.