Valleyfair has always been a staple in the Twin Cities community for kids to acquire their first job and build their resume. That was no different for Jim Smith, who applied to work at the park in 2011. Jim started working as a ride operator. His hard work ethic gained notice from park leadership, and they continuously promoted Jim into different leadership positions.
Jim is currently the manager of Aquatics and Park Services for Valleyfair. He subscribes to the mentality that if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. "I never really want to leave the atmosphere of an amusement park while in operation, so it is difficult for me to leave that and go home for the day," Smith said.
Leadership and personal development are two skills that Jim hopes all associates learn while working at Valleyfair. "It is not a summer job. The skills you learn while working with hundreds of people, and the interactions you will have with thousands of guests will stick with you for years," Smith said, " I want associates to think of it as an opportunity to learn more about who you are. Their ability to make someone's day better will affect change."
Jim's favorite part about working at Valleyfair is developing first-time associates into park leaders that come back year after year. "As this might be their first working experience in a leadership role, it is an undertaking to ensure that they have the right tools and training they need to succeed. As time passes, you see them grow into their position and excel in their role. As they get promoted again and again, it's exciting to see how they can handle new tasks. It brings joy to see some of the associates that I have promoted moving on to accept Full-Time positions within Cedar Fair and other companies," Smith said.
One thing everyone should know about Jim is that he loves to work, but he also enjoys experiencing the park the same way our guests do every day. "I can never get enough rides in on Excalibur," Smith said.
Jim credits his personal growth and leadership skills to his time working at Valleyfair. "As a first-year Associate at Valleyfair, I was timid. I had the opportunity to work with guests and co-workers and broke out of my shell within days because I had to, and I loved it. Valleyfair is a place to learn what type of person you are and grow as a leader," Smith said, "I genuinely believe that working at an amusement park is a once in a lifetime opportunity."