If you’re thinking about doing a winter season the chances are that you
a.) are pretty passionate about skiing or boarding, and
b.) need a job to pay to do a.)
A ski resort has a huge range of seasonal jobs on offer for someone looking for an adventure in the mountains. There are of course ski and snowboard instructor jobs, but for trainee instructors looking to fit work around training, and everyone else, here’s a lowdown on what to expect.
Working for a tour operator
If you’re a dab hand in the kitchen, or really care about making a guest’s holiday extra special, working for a tour operator can be a great way to get maximum time on the slopes each day.
Chalet host – if you’ve seen the film, I’m afraid the reality is slightly different. Expect early morning breakfast service, lots of cleaning and weekly shopping trip organisation. On the plus side, you get plenty of time to ski each day and a day off every week (normally a Wednesday). Downsides: changeover days, coming up with new cake recipes.
Transfer driver / maintenance – a tour operator or chalet company will often combine these roles. So you’ll need a clean driving license (some countries also need you to sit an exam), and some maintenance experience. Positives: fairly relaxed schedule apart from transfer days. Negatives: 3 back to back airport transfers followed by putting on snowchains in a blizzard.
Resort manager – The in resort role which takes you (slightly) away from the coal face of customer service. Good news: you don’t have to clean loos. Bad news: your phone won’t stop ringing.
Chef – With the right experience and qualifications there are incredible chef positions in resort, both with chalet companies and restaurants. You’ll have a fairly set routine, though in restaurants rotas will often change each week. Plus side: lots of ski time. Negatives: in your second week of your new job you will have to cook a Christmas dinner for 30 people.
Working for a ski school
As well as ski instructors and trainee programmes, ski schools often have plenty of seasonal staff roles each winter. At New Generation we recruit over 25 people for the winter season. Roles include:
Customer service / reservations – taking bookings over the phone or managing a shop. Normally on a rota which means good ski time during the day, but you will probably have to work longer shifts over the weekends.
Sales rep – visiting chalets at the weekend for in resort sales. The good news is that you have to ‘socialise’ for your job (yes you read that right). Bad news – you then have to visit 30 chalet in the slush.
Kids helper – ski schools often employ a part time helper during the busy peak weeks to support the instructor. You’ll need a CRB check, and a good line of jokes about snowmen.
Other jobs in resort
Bar work – You’ll be part of a tight knit team and responsible dolling out Jaeger meister in apres. But expect to finish at 5am, serve tinnitus and the mother of all cleaning sessions.
Ski service – as well as the maintenance / transfer role, this is a favourite for trainee instructors looking to pay their way through their ISIA or ISTD training. Ski service jobs often involve 4 days straight in a room with no windows and lots of chemicals, but then you have the rest of the week to yourself.
Put simply, there are lots of different non instructor roles available in a resort. The ones I’ve outlined here are mostly seasonal ones, but there are some roles (such as marketing, contracting or finance support) which run all year round. My advice to someone thinking about doing a season, is to do plenty of research about the company you want to work for. If you can, speak to past employees. And take the application seriously (which means changing out of your pyjamas before a skype interview. Yes, this has happened before). Good luck!