In the last post I described how I qualified as a BASI Ski Instructor. In summer of 2004 I became the proud owner of a shiny new Ski Instructor Licence. Obviously I was eager to put this to good use as soon as I could. It is perfectly possible to work as a part time instructor - at a dry ski slope or on working holidays for a week at a time. This would have been the sensible thing to do in many ways. I could have kept my regular job and had a steady income as I worked my way through the system. Being me, I did not even consider doing the sensible thing. I was determined that one way or another I would spend the following winter teaching skiing full time. Unfortunately I had no idea how difficult it would be to get a job doing just that. I had naively assumed that it would be a simple case of choosing a resort I wanted to work in and calling the ski school. After all, I had my shiny new Licence to prove I could do the job. I decided to work in Verbier as I had just done my exam there and knew one or two people from that course. I sent a couple of emails and had a telephone conversation with the director of one Verbier ski school who was encouraging and suggested I had a good chance of getting a job if I got some experience at the dry slope and my CV looked good. I considered my CV to be pretty good for someone with no experience, so I took this to mean I had as good as got the job. I did send a couple more letters to ski schools in Switzerland and Andorra as a backup but to be honest I did not try too hard after this. I sure I was going to Verbier.
Summer faded into autumn. I had no replies to my half hearted backup job applications but I was not worried. I called the ski school director in Verbier to follow up my application, as we had agreed I would do. I was quite surprised when I he told me that I had no chance of getting a job due to my lack of experience. It turned out that due to a rule change a lot of instructors who had worked as trainees in France no longer had jobs there and were applying to Switzerland. A lot of very experienced and better qualified instructors were applying to work in Verbier and the ski school was not interested in employing anybody with less than a full season of teaching behind them.
At this point I began to frantically look for a job in any ski school that would have me. Most had finished their recruitment process months before and it dawned on me that I had left everything far too late. I scoured the web and the BASI News (a ski instructor newsletter) looking for ski schools who were recruiting, and I wrote prospective letters to many ski schools who were not advertising. I did have a few phone interviews but in each case I was rejected in favour of somebody with more experience. Most ski schools did not reply to my letters.
Two pieces of advice then for the would be instructor wanting to avoid my mistakes. Firstly - don't be in such a hurry to give up the regular job. Part time teaching is a great way to gain experience and fund more courses and may put you in a better position in the long run. Secondly - if you do want to work full time apply for as many jobs as you can and do not be too picky about where you want to teach. At the start of your career the important thing is to get some experience. If you really want to work in a particular place - if you live there already for example - then talk to the ski school(s) before you book the instructor course. Find out what the chances are of them giving you a job, and what you would have to do to get it. The best thing would be to get a conditional job offer guaranteeing you a job if you pass, but do not expect the majority of schools to give these out.
Back to my job search; I was getting worried by now. I had already confidently told my employers that I was leaving in December to teach skiing. With every day that went by it seemed more likely that I would have to go back and sheepishly ask them to keep me on. Just as I was losing hope the BASI News came through the door with the possibility of job adverts in it. There were one or two companies still recruiting for that winter and I applied immediately to all of them. Two days later I was called by the head of the ski school at Nevis Range, Scotland. After a brief chat and confirmation of my qualification he offered me a job.
|My Destination - Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg from the ski slopes of Aonach Mor|
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