The Season Workers Guide: Ski Season Survival Tips
Set up and the early season
When am I going to get out on my board!? The early stages of a working ski season can be tough, normally after the hype of a training course with sometimes hundreds of people doing the same as you. Reality kicks in and you start earning your keep. Definately the most important part of the season, get it right, make yourself indispensible and you are set!
The early ski season is tough for the vast majority of new ski resort workers. Resorts need to be prepared and that means everybody has to pitch in with snow clearing (hopefully!) and cleaning - no matter what they are going to be doing for the rest of the season. This period is usually the making of the rest of the ski season in terms of team morale and the relationships that will shape your experience. Setting up is quite often the first real work that younger staff have ever done and it may well be the first time your immediate boss has done his or her job as well; so give them a chance, it works both ways!
Whatever you are doing, we cannot stress enough the importance of working hard and showing a bit of grit at this stage. It always gets easier and you will be glad that you fought through it and did yourself proud. Being willing and enthusiastic will normally carry you through to the Spring if it's coupled with hard work. By far the most common groans from ski season employers about their poorer staff is that they acted "lioke they were on holiday". Don't be one of these.
Be willing to learn from more experienced ski season workers and do your best to be indispensable to the team. If you see something that needs doing, it is usually appreciated if you just do it rather than wait to be told. Walking around like you mean business rather than sauntering between jobs will keep you engaged in the task in hand and be a lot more use to your probably frazzled boss.
Remember, the set up period is the hardest time for everyone, don't be worried if you are struggling a bit at first - everyone does. The test is in how you handle these early stages, handle it well and you will get a lot more out of the rest of the ski season.
The mid season Blues
Once you have learned all you need to know, and successfully got the hang of your new job it will soon be halftime and strange things start to happen. Around January in the lull after Christmas many people find that their motivation can start to slide. This is perfectly normal and is fine as long as your work doesn't suffer. If you let your standards slip and start complaining to your peers you risk your motivation going into a nosedive and you will soon be sick of the sound of your own droning voice. This will not only be detrimental to the end product of your work, but will drastically reduce your own enjoyment, maybe to the point of an early dart.
How to get out of it - The trick is to go back to basics and look after yourself. Try to hold back a bit, not do things to excess and take a step back mentally to get things in perspective. This can be particularly difficult if you are a ski rep or resort manager, or doing a job that involves working at night and long hours, but a few weeks of calm can just steady it all up. If you are a burned out resort manager, remember that the only person that can’t see if you are suffering from stress is you. You don't have to have a complete breakdown to be suffering with stress; making inconsistent decisions and having an unhealthy level of self doubt are common symptoms.
If you do start struggling in the middle of a ski season you should talk to your boss or immediate boss. They will more than likely have experienced what you are feeling like. A rant to your parents or friends at home can help if you then leave it at that and try to push through. Once you are a few weeks past the halfway stage the blues normally wear off and you can start planning your summer season, or at least finishing with the sense of pride that you got through it.
Getting towards the end, what next?
You basically have two choices, do another season or go home and get a lobotomy / proper job. You might be able to use the experience you gained to get a better job for the next season even if you are transferring between sumer and winter resort jobs; seasonal customer experience is very easily transferred and UK employers are more impressed than ever before by overseas work on a CV.