Paul, is a professional ski bum three months of the year. During the Aussie summer he leaves behind the sun and surf to work and play in the ski slopes from Japan to Canada.
I went to Canada for the 2005–06 ski season for nine months and skied and worked for the Fairmont Hotel. I was a dish-pig and a banquet server. The Fairmont is the best hotel in Whistler. We lived in staff accommodation on the hill, which was taken out of our wages before tax. We had a lot of flexibility in how much we wanted to work and I tried to work mainly nights from about 5 pm until about 1.30 am, so that I could just ski during the day. And I could still technically go out after work if I wanted to. I didn’t go for the work as such but more for the benefits of living in a ski town.
Everyone lives on the mountain – Australians, Kiwis, British, Germans, and French Canadians – in staff accommodation or in share houses. There is no bigger party town anywhere. Every night we just go crazy.
Most places will give you a season pass for free or at a very reduced rate.
Japan was very different to Canada. In Japan I worked as a ski host for a tour guide company. That involved picking people up with their luggage, taking them to their accommodation and helping them get ski hire and food shopping – generally getting them settled in. The following days you take them skiing around and find them the best powder.
You had to be a very good skier – skiing in Japan is very different to lots of other places around the world because the snow is very powdery.
It wasn’t as set as over in Canada – it was just whenever I was needed. I was paid a monthly rate no matter how much work I did so it usually just balanced up from week to week.
Like most ski villages, employers offered accommodation on the slopes. We lived in a really cool log cabin overlooking the hill right above ‘the office’.
Chefs, lifties, bar tenders, waitresses – all the usual sorts of things.
There are a lot of third party companies which help you get set up in the country you are going to. You can also look on the websites of somewhere you want to work – IEP (International Exchange Program) is good because they do it all for you.
Definitely do it. Especially if you are a uni student and get a few months off at the end of the year. Jump on a plane, go work a bit – you aren’t going to save any money but you will have an awesome experience.
The cold weather isn’t for everybody – some people can get a little depressed. In Japan, for example, we didn’t see the sun for about a month and some people can’t handle that.
Not really – it is very competitive to get the jobs. The pay is never that great but you do get a lot of benefits such as staff housing and season passes. I suppose if you add that up then the pay seems OK, but it’s not very reasonable compared with Australia. But that’s not why you go there – you go for the experience.
I am heading back to Canada for the second time. I’m going to be spending the first month not working, just skiing. After that I will probably look for accountancy jobs during the ski season over there before coming back to Australia. I have finished a Business Finance degree with a double major in funds management and financial planning.
They vary from country to country. In the states there is a thing called J1 or a sponsorship visa which you can get multiple times but it’s very limited to where you may work and what you can do. Canada had just changed its rules – it used to be one visa only, if you are aged between 18 and 30 years. Now you can have as many as you want for $135 for each year. When getting a visa you have to show that you have money to support yourself. In Japan you also have to show that you want to enhance your cultural experience and are not there just to party.
Related Industry Specialisation