“It’s pronounced dress-en, like the salad.”

Jessica casually puts me at ease during her interview with her simple explanation of how to say her name right. She doesn’t know that I’ve spent the last two weeks interviewing over a dozen candidates for the Assistant Store Manager position. Jessica Dresen established herself as the right person for the museum store in less than two minutes. In just about 120 seconds of conversation I’ve become impressed with her no nonsense approach, her strong eye contact, her humor, and her intuitive knowledge of what’s important about being at the front of the house.

That conversation was in mid June. This month, Jessica was promoted to Store Manager.

Make no mistake, the front of the house ain’t easy.

Especially when you get tossed smack in the start of the busiest time of year; Summer. Jessica came up to speed, literally, amidst an onslaught of vacationers enjoying the beautiful Virginia Beach oceanfront. By the dozen, by the hundred, folks pour through front door with questions, wanting to buy tickets for the museum, wanting to buy souvenirs, wanting to make Ghost Walk reservations. We are proud to have Jessica’s great attitude and spirit to help them.

At a small museum, you quickly discover that you need to juggle many duties to get through the days. Jessica is great at this. Yes, it’s important to be good at merchandising the shelves, to figure out what to order for next month, to keep the cash drawer correct to the penny. You need to get all of this right for running the shop. But this is also an active community center filled with events and happenings. That means learning how to help with working on exhibits, jumping into the party planning with setup, hospitality, and tear down. You might find her in a museum t-shirt working on construction and painting, or in a Hawaiian dress hosting a Happy Hour, or even in a Flapper outfit for our Gatsby themed Ghost Walk nights.

Regardless of the role, Jessica always brings her smile and professionalism to the job. She’s a natural role model for other staff, for interns and for our volunteers.  That’s Jessica’s best skill; putting people first. She grew up in Virginia Beach and knocked out her undergrad in Recreation and Tourism right at ODU. She loves this community and truly enjoys sharing the history and events this treasure of a museum offers every day. So when I think back to that sunny June afternoon, that day when Jessica walked into the offices for her interview, I remember this as very good day for the museum. We are so grateful to have her as part of our small staff.

At a recent event a colleague from another museum mentions that I was in the hiring process for the store the last time we chatted. She asks if the person we hired has worked out.

“Yes. Her name is Jessica Dresen. Like the salad.”

“And Jessica rocks.”

William Hazel