A snippet of a typical conversation in the life of a ski resort manager or supervisor goes something like this:
Person: “Where do you work?”
Employee: “Sierra-at-Tahoe, a Snowsports resort in Lake Tahoe.”
Person: “Oh, you’re a ski instructor!”
Employee: “No, not quite...”
I’ve had conversations like this numerous times during the more than five years I’ve worked at ski resorts. It can be frustrating, but most times I take it as an opportunity to educate the person I’m speaking with about employment options available at your local ski resort. From full-time management, to seasonal management or supervisor roles overseeing a department, there many meaningful positions that offer their own sets of rewards and opportunities.
An example of ski resort jobs that offer limitless possibilities are seasonal managers and supervisor positions. Seasonal managers or supervisors are most often the glue that holds the day-to-day operations of a resort together. These members of the management team are asked to oversee the hourly employees from hiring, training, coaching and, at times, letting people go. The skills you can learn in these roles are invaluable: you’ll receive coaching on how to manage people, you’ll be able to learn about labor budgets, and in the end you may be able to take this knowledge and apply it to your own business! We have many seasonal supervisors that started at Sierra as hourly employees, worked their way up to supervisors, and now enjoy the seasonality of their positions while running their own seasonal businesses (landscaping, tree care, etc.). We have other seasonal supervisors and managers who already have established summer businesses and choose to work at Sierra in the winter while learning valuable business tricks to apply when the snow melts.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t want to start your own business after winter is over, your team members usually know the influential people in key summer businesses. Sierra has many seasonal managers and supervisors that enjoy steady employment at your favorite beachside restaurants and resorts, many of whom return year after year. These employees enjoy a down month in May before the summer season kicks off, and typically get some time off again in late September/October.
Full-time managers play a different role. When the snow melts and hourly employees, seasonal supervisors and managers go home, we’re the ones left to keep the train moving forward. I know, you may think we play pingpong all summer, but it’s not true! We take a step back, analyze how we did, look at what we did well, and seek improvements for next season.
Summer goes by in an instant, and next thing you know we’re all back at Sierra, planning for the next (big) winter. So, next time you’re thinking about what to do this winter, or where to break into a management role in Tahoe, think of taking your game to a higher level. Think of working at ski resort for the winter, who knows where it will lead?
Matt Palacio is a senior sales manager at Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort and a member of Tahoe Regional Young Professionals.