Ever dreamed about working at a ski resort? If you want to live in the mountains, this is one of the best ways to do it. Not only will you be living in a beautiful place, but you’ll have the chance to ski or snowboard all winter long. Why visit a ski town on vacation when you can make your whole life a vacation? The dream of living the mountain life is actually very obtainable. If you’ve thought about applying to a ski resort, but didn’t know where to start, keep reading!
Finding Job Opportunities
For best results, I recommend applying to several resorts at a time. If you already have a few options in mind, you can go straight to the websites for these specific mountains to find job opportunities. When I went through my first application process for the ski industry, I wasn’t familiar with very many mountains. I applied to the ones I knew and searched for others. Perhaps search for resorts within a certain area that you may be interested in working. For me, I knew I wanted to work in either California or Colorado, so I researched resorts in those areas and applied to several.
It may make the process easier to apply to multiple resorts owned by the same company. If you’re looking to work for an independent resort, this won’t be an option, but many mountains operate under the same corporate entity. Check out the company’s main website for openings. You should be able to easily send in applications to a few resorts at a time.
Generally, the hiring season for ski resorts picks up in the fall. Most resorts are going to do the bulk of their hiring in October and early November, though they will probably start looking in September. It is in your best interest to plan ahead and apply early to get the position that you want. However, if you’ve missed this window, don’t worry too much – it’s likely that applications will still be taken through the new year. Job options will just be more limited.
What Job Should I Apply To?
If you want to work outside, the easiest position to get hired for is Lift Operations. No skiing or snowboarding experience necessary, in most cases – but you’ll get the opportunity to be on the mountain every day. This is one of the best positions if you’re looking to improve your skiing! Once you pass the basic ski test, you’ll be able to ride for work. If you’re already an experienced skier, you may want to try instructing. A little more coveted of a job, it will also pay better. Bilingualism is a plus for this position.
Service industry experience also comes in handy in the ski industry. Food and beverage gigs are a little more competitive, but it can also be some of the best paying work you’ll find. There are many general customer service positions, too. Hotel front desks, ticket sales, or retail are all great options. If you’ve got customer service experience and at least a little skiing experience, you might be able to land a job as a ski tech.
Unsure what you want to do for the mountain? Check out job postings and apply in bulk. This is probably your best bet to get hired. Cover all of your bases! If you do have something in mind, go for it, but don’t get too set on one specific job. Getting your foot in the door may be the most important part in some cases. Resorts do like to hire internally for some jobs, so keep this in mind. Many people work a season in one position and are able to move up or over to a better job as soon as the next winter rolls around.
Employee Housing vs. Finding Your Own Place
Unfortunately, the most difficult part of the process will be finding housing. Many resorts will offer employee housing for their workforce, but it is first-come, first-serve and will be limited. If you’re applying later in the season, this may not be an option for you. The earlier you apply, and the earlier you arrive, the better your luck will be with getting staff housing.
Keep in mind that to a certain extent, priority will be given to applicants that do not need employee housing. This is not to say that you will not be hired for a job because you ask for staff housing, but if you do not need housing, you will be at the top of the list.
If you do choose to live in employee housing, expect something similar to living in a dorm. You may be sharing a room, and you will definitely be sharing common areas with several roommates. Rent will likely be much cheaper than searching for your own place, and you will probably not be on a lease.
Your hiring team will have resources for you if you choose to search for your own housing. They should be able to direct you to local Facebook groups, classifieds, and apartment websites. Check out local Craigslist posts, as well. Housing is always in high demand, so act quickly on any listings you’re interested in. Don’t get too discouraged if places get snatched up, though. There will be more!
During your interview, you can expect general questions regarding your past work experience and how it would relate to the job you are applying for. None of the questions should be too difficult, but prepare answers regarding past challenges as well as your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re applying for a service position, you will probably be asked how you would handle a difficult customer. You will likely also be asked how you function in a high-paced environment, as the holiday season can be extremely busy at ski resorts. Your interviewer will want to know that you will be able to handle the crowds without too much burnout. Specific stories that show how you do well under pressure will be beneficial.
Enthusiasm will go a long way in your interview – possibly more than anything else. If you’re excited about the opportunity to work for that mountain, let them know! The hiring team is looking to cultivate a work environment made up of individuals who are excited to be working on the mountain. The more you make it clear that this is you, the better. Doing a little research on the resort won’t hurt, either. Why DO you want to work there? Prepare an answer that shows your interviewer that this is more than just a seasonal job for you. If you really want to get into the ski industry, tell them.
Enjoy the Mountain Life!
So, you’ve lined up the job – now get prepared! Bring warm clothing (avoid cottons – they don’t dry out well in snowy weather), good winter boots, wool socks and plenty of beanies. No ski gear? No problem. You’ll be able to take advantage of plenty of employee discounts and local thrifted gear once you arrive. Most of all, get excited! The ski town life is a one-of-a-kind experience. Whether you plan to become a lifelong mountain local, or just want to check it out for a season or two, it’s something you won’t soon forget.