CP file photo
Some young people consider working at a ski resort like Whistler a rite of passage.
It’s considered by some to be a rite of passage. Others do it to figure out what to do with their lives. Either way, young people say that working at a resort is a great way to explore Canada, experience the outdoors and make some cash. And at this time of year, outdoor experience means hitting the slopes after a day on the job.
Stuart Vander Vaart, 21, is in his final year of college studying golf course management. But the student, originally from Sarnia, Ont., is spending his winter working at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta. Vander Vaart, who currently works doing snow removal at the resort, admits there is a drawback to his job.
“When it does snow, you automatically want to go skiing because there’s fresh powder,” he said. “But when it snows, I have to work. Other than that it’s awesome.”
Helen Elgie, regional director of human resources at Fairmont, said people come to work at resorts for more than just the nearby skiing and snowboarding. Elgie said some people need time out to re-evaluate where they are in life, and working at a resort is a great way to do that.
“Some people leave high school and they’re not quite so sure where they’re going in the future and so they come before entering post-secondary institutions,” she said.
Others also come midway through college or university as a hassle-free approach to taking time off from school, she added. David Rice, Intrawest’s vice-president of human resources, believes young adults are more focused when they return to school after working at a resort.
“It just gives you a chance to take a break, to get grounded, and to invest your energies into something that’s really healthy and invigorating,” he said.
Young adults don’t need a couple years of post-secondary schooling under their belt to score a job by the mountains. Both Elgie and Rice said positions are available for people with no previous hotel experience.
Housekeeping positions at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel pay $11.75 an hour, Elgie said, while those working in jobs with a higher level of guest interaction can earn $16.09 an hour.
Because Fairmont provides staff accommodations and a staff cafeteria at its resorts, employees get those costs automatically deducted from their paycheque.
Rice said some Intrawest resorts have staff accommodations, but it’s difficult to get a spot at this point in the season.