Why do people move to the mountains? More importantly, why do they stay? What initially draws people to ski resort areas is definitely the skiing and the adventure of it all. Disgruntled with the current job, looking for a last hurrah after college before entering the “real world”, or just living to ski. It’s this grand adventure which often transforms into the ultimate life journey.
Starts with something like, “why am I at this job that I don’t even like when I don’t have to be?”, you quit your job and so it begins.
This article I came across tells a familiar story.
”When I decided to quit my job of a mere 5 months, and move from New York City, where I grew up, to Vail, Colorado, I was met with mixed reviews from friends and family. Some were impressed with the bravery of the decision, moving from a big city to a small town where I knew not a single person, while others would ask, with a hint of judgment, “So you’re going to be a ski bum?””
“So you are you going to be a ski bum?”, the most common assumption. Really? You believe these popular upscale resort destination areas are purely made up of skiers who do nothing but ski and run by elves that mysteriously appear from some other realm? I know, a little far fetched, but to hear things such as, “I didn’t think anyone really lived there” year after year, what exactly does that mean?
Moving on in the story, the underrated value of the ski resort job, another one of my favorite topics. The writer references the NY Times article published last year about college grads and professionals who either could not find or had lost their jobs and headed up to the mountains.
”… the article failed to mention the underlying benefits of ski resort jobs. Yes, you get to work with fun, young people and work only 4 days a week to allow ample time on the slopes, but these positions are bigger resume builders than you think.”
So true and not only are they good resume builders, they offer an excellent opportunity to hone those customer service skills, a basic yet crucial skill necessary for a successful career in any industry . Being able to effectively communicate, service and listen is key. Ski Resorts are hosts to tourists from all over the world, the exposure, the learning experience is phenomenal.
”After working only one winter season at ski school, I landed a management role the following year, knowing well that if I stayed in my real estate job in New York, it would be years before I saw any type of promotion. Being a supervisor taught me invaluable lessons in a business setting, even if the business was putting skis on 3 year olds and preparing decent hot chocolate when they came inside from the bunny hill. It gave me the confidence to make decisions, take initiative and empower employees through delegating responsibilities. I had to learn to hire people and even fire people, skills and experiences I could never get in an entry level position.”
This is often the way it works in these ski resort areas, not at all uncommon, ski resorts like to promote from within and the more you are involved in the community the better are your chances for landing a full time job within the different business’ in town.
”While jobs are transitioning, there is an onslaught of concerts and other arts events such as the Vail International Dance Festival and the Bravo Classical Music Festival to whet the cultural appetite.”
How many small towns do you know that have this kind of culture available? Another unique benefit to enjoy while living in a resort town.
”But it was in this high-energy environment where I think I learned the most. The restaurant I worked at valued team work, and understanding each role in the restaurant so that we could help whenever needed and work collaboratively to deliver the best possible product. Even as a hostess I could stand on the line to watch the chefs assemble beautiful dishes and attend weekly wine tastings to try some of the best vintages from France and California. Besides learning about the food and how to distinguish a pinot from a syrah, being in a restaurant taught me how to work alongside a diverse group of people, think on my feet in an unpredictable environment, retain a smile and learn from my mistakes in the face of harsh criticism or complaints from guests.”
One thing I tried to always keep in mind while working in a ski town, whether it was part time, full time or seasonal, was to always come from the perspective that I was going to work hard, learn valuable skills and have fun. The two go hand in hand in a resort town, working hard and having fun and community defines these small ski towns. You’ll learn pretty quickly, the locals love their towns.
”After two years of living and working in Vail, people often ask if I will stay out here forever. Probably not. For now, I will work on finding a career that I truly love where I can apply the skills that I have learned here.”
Time will tell. Warning, the longer you stay, the less you’ll want to leave. Trust me on this one …
And here is the link to the complete article, Making the Most of Low Unemployment in a High Altitude