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  • Writer's pictureMinyoung E. Kim

Working as a ski instructor

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

Last run of the day after work

It's been about two months since I started working as a part-time ski instructor at Okemo Mountain Resort. I've been casually teaching my friends skiing and snowboarding here and there but this is the first time for me to officially become an instructor. The interview process was not as intense as I expected-maybe I was biased by the interviews I had gone through in the past for tech companies a little too much. I was so thrilled when I got an offer that I couldn't really focus on the research work on that day.

During the two months, many things happened. 1) I got to know about this company a lot - Vail resorts, along with Okemo Ski School. 2) I was trained by experienced supervisor-level instructors. 3) I met super cool people in this field, and was excited by their enthusiasm on skiing/snowboarding which was no less than mine. 4) I validated that I'm still the person who can't live without skiing/snowboarding. I'd like to share a bit more of each below.

Vail Resorts

The first snowboard trip I made in California was in 2008, at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Since then, I went to Northstar, Squaw Valley, and other ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area. As I go snowboarding more often, I started buying a season pass and that was probably around 2010. Vail Resorts acquired Northstar in 2010 and they owned Heavenly since 2002, and the Epic pass that allows me to go any of those resorts seemed to be a good choice. Vail then, acquired Kirkwood in 2012, and that was when I realized that this company is going big, and even bigger by acquiring Whistler Blackcomb, the largest ski area in North America, for $1 billion. Below is the acquisition history of the Vail Resorts:

What I knew about this company was nothing more than what I mentioned above. I was a returning customer for several years and felt excited every year, figuring out the number of ski resorts I can go with my pass kept growing.

Then, when hired as a part-time ski instructor, I was required to take online/offline training courses, and that was when I truly got to know about this company. And, I felt in love. The company's mission is "Experience of a Lifetime". How simple but perfect it is. That's what I get whenever I go skiing and snowboarding at these resorts, and also what I'd like our customers (students in my case) would have too. The core values of the company is following: Serve Others, Do Right, Drive Value, Do Good, Be Safe and Have Fun. Aren't they beautiful?!

As a digression, the online new-hire training course materials were by the best I've ever seen from other companies I've been through. Not a single slide/section I was bored, and that was because the materials were succinct, enjoyable, and very well-organized. Having videos showing snowy mountains with people skiing/snowboarding as background was a big plus-I couldn't take off of my eyes from those.

Okemo Ski School and Me

I'm glad that I started my instructor career at Okemo. The training offered to me was awesome and the clinics are really helpful to build up my teaching experiences. I learned how to teach differently but efficiently based on students' ages (adults vs children), level (beginner to experienced), way of processing information (visual, auditory, or kinetics), goals, and etc. Furthermore, the people I met are incredible. They're knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and sharing the same feelings about skiing/snowboarding/mother nature as me. This is something I've been missing a lot since I relocated to Massachusetts, in that all of my skiing/snowboarding friends were in California. Belonging to a group where I can share my enthusiasm with others sometimes means a lot to me and Okemo ski school provided me one.

I love teaching, I love skiing/snowboarding, and I love the mother nature. Being a ski instructor is like to have all together in one. Even if I'm so busy during weekdays for coursework/research and I have to wake up at 3:30 am on Saturday to drive up to Vermont, I feel calm, peaceful, and happy while I'm on the mountain skiing/teaching, and magically I regain my energy. As I get older, my physical strength decreases and sometimes driving back and forth from Boston to Ludlow makes me physically tired, but I become stronger mentally.

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