Employee of the Month: Michaela Heinz, office manager at the American Dream surf pool

I learned that native New Jerseyans distinguish whether they came from Northern New Jersey or elsewhere in the state. I think it’s a matter of pride, like the way Northern Californians never let you forget that they are NOT from Los Angeles. Northern New Jersey, or “North Jersey,” is an economic and transportation hub (25 million passengers per year pass through Newark Liberty airport!) You will also find part of the Appalachian Mountains, the New Jersey Highlands, and the best view in the world of Manhattan. Michaela Heinz is a North Jerseyan who was attracted to the prospect of surfing indoors when the American Dream Mall finally opened its doors after 17 long years of on-again off-again construction. She has taken her background in snow and applied some of those lessons to the office manager position at SkudinSurf.

This post is brought to you by dedicated surf park career website Wavepooljobs.

And so how did you find this job at SkudinSurf American Dream?
I found this job just through some connections right before they were going to open up in 2020. So I’ve been here since the start, and it’s been really exciting to see this place grow over the last two and a half years.

What are your job duties?
I’m the office manager here. So along with some on-site work in terms of events and different groups that come in. Mostly if you give us a phone call or send us an email, I’m helping everyone else, you know, book their sessions and make sure they’re prepared for their sessions.

So what would you advise people coming here for the first time to make the whole process easier?
The best thing to do would be to check out our website, our FAQ tab on our website. It has all the information in terms of how to book when we release sessions, what you need to prepare, and also all the details in terms of finding us and our hours. So you’re prepared to see our schedule in terms of when you can come visit us as we do operate in the mornings and the evenings.

ben gravy at the american dream mall
Michaela’s main job is helping people book sessions and ensuring that guests make the most of their visit to SkudinSurfAD, including celebs like Ben Gravy.

So can you tell us about your background? Did you train in hospitality?
So my experience is actually in snow. I was a manager over at a local New Jersey ski mountain. So I have extensive experience working with a lot of departments over there. And while I love snowboarding and skiing, surfing is a whole other thing I wanted to get involved with and continue learning more about. So it’s been a great experience transitioning from the snow into surf.

Can you give us an instance to help illustrate the problem-solving aspect of your job?
Yeah. I mean, there are many instances in part too since we’ve been here since the start in terms of growing the business and how we do certain things. We were here on-site a lot at the beginning trying to figure out how we, you know, do the cabanas, how we set that up, what sort of snacks we need. Paul worked on the quiver and, you know, things like that. Ultimately, our most exciting surf times here are our events run through us or different companies and corporations. And so those are super fun where we’re doing catering and organizing all that stuff to make sure people have a good event with us. So event planning is also kind of a part of the job, which I really love taking our space and making it work for what someone wants it to do. So that’s been really fun.

Are events pretty much straightforward or do you get some creative requests?
So there can be some crazy requests and we try to accommodate all of them. I think one time we put a winch in here. But things like that can be super fun to figure out. And getting in contact with different media too. We’ve had the Today Show here doing a segment on us, and organizing a music video here too. So that is kind of all in our span of organizing and it’s been super fun. So we always look forward to doing cool new stuff. And there’s a lot of opportunity to work with us to do something cool with your brand, your company, your media outlet.

wave pool software tech by perfectswell
There is a lot going on inside the American Dream mall, Michaela’s duties include guiding people through the maze of distraction to find the surf.

What are your hours here?
So we run from about 7 to 11 in the morning and then about 7 p.m. to midnight, depending on the day, depending on events in the water park. We arrange our schedule around all that stuff. So some days we aren’t here if there’s an event booked. But our surf time is organized with our partners. But ultimately morning sessions, evening sessions, about 6 to 8 hours of surf time a day.

What do you love most about being here at SkudinSurf?

I love the excitement of everyone when they’re leaving. The whole process of getting them booked and actually getting those tickets and coming here and seeing just how stoked they are. And so it’s our clients. We have amazing clients that come once a week are locals and then people that come from honestly all across the world. So being able to give them that, you know, that surf experience, that specific, unique student surf experience is amazing. And so and then the staff, we have amazing people. It’s a part-time job for a lot of people. So we have firefighters, teachers, people that come from all over that want to work for us and with us. And so it’s great to have them on the team and have people, you know, all these great personalities working to create the experience for our clients.