BiscuitFuelled
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So, you want to do a ski season?

Firstly, great idea – ski seasons are a good way to spend 6 months of your life; the atmosphere is very social, and there is also the obvious bonus of getting to ski all winter, in some of the best resorts in the world, and get paid for your time there! Of course, most people will need a job to cover the costs, and that’s what this thread is about. In response to the number of questions about ski seasons that are on here, I’m going to do my best to pass on as much wisdom as I can about working a ski season. I worked in Meribel, in the French Alps, on my gap year, and had to do a lot of research into what I wanted to do when I was abroad – I hope what I learned can help with your decisions.

The first point I will say – if you do not ski or snowboard well, or at all, it does not matter a bit. Working a season will give you the opportunity to spend a hell of a lot of time on the piste, learning how to ski or board; I know people that went from never having been on snow before, to being pretty damned good, just from the amount of practice time you get. Obviously, if you are a seasoned skier, you will have a good time anyway, but it’s also a good opportunity to perfect your technique.

The first, and most obvious choice to make is what country you want to go to. In the British wintertime, there are two fundamental choices – North America, or Europe.

North America encompasses Canada and the US - both of which require you to have a visa/work permit before you can get a job. Getting into the US is a lot harder than Canada, so it’s probably best to look to Canada. You will need to speak to someone like BUNAC about how you get a job, although www.natives.co.uk is a good place to get advice on this too. As I personally have no experience in applying for jobs in the US or Canada, I cannot really give any more advice in this area – sorry!

Europe encompasses all the various countries, largely in the EU, although some do fall outside (i.e. Switzerland). Countries in the EU are a good choice when it comes to thinking about a ski season – as the UK is also in the EU, British Citizens do not need to apply for any type of work permit. This means you can just get a job, and head out to the slopes! The majority of ski jobs are with UK based companies, and they normally insist (although this does vary between companies) that:

1) You are a British Citizen
2) You have a British Passport
3) You have a UK bank account
4) You have a UK National Insurance Number

Although your job is abroad, the companies are based in the UK, and many pay your wages to a British bank account. If you have a work permit or similar, or are not a UK citizen, then you may find it tricky to apply with some of the tour operators – as I said, it does vary A LOT, so check with any prospective employer before you apply.

The next step to consider is what you want to do when you're there. The basic types of jobs are:

Administration (Accounts, office work etc.)
Resort Staff (Resort Managers, TO Representatives etc.)
Chalet Host (cook, cleaner and general dogsbody)
Bar Staff (bartender or glass collector)
Restaurant Staff (waitstaff, chef, kitchen porter)
Hotel Staff (as bar and restaurant, but also housekeeper, and night porter)
Maintenance (driver, handyman)
Childcare (nannies)
Ski Repair

Assuming you're going to be 18 when you travel (the minimum age for getting any job in the Alps, with a British company), you will be limited in your choices. Admin, Resort Staff, and Maintenance will all be out of reach, due to company policies, lack of relevant qualifications/experience, and insurance issues. Age limitations are normally listed on any job advert – however, if you are a year or less outside the age minimum, it’s often worth applying anyway (excluding jobs where the age limit is based on legal reasons).

Additionally - most places won't take on 18 year old bartenders, even with experience - 19-21 year olds normally are accepted, provided you know what you're doing. You can get a job as a glass collector, but generally speaking, it involves a lot of heavy labour (lifting full beer kegs, gas patio heaters and canisters etc.), so most glass collectors (or bar-backs) are guys – it’s not sexist, it is purely because most girls would not be able to physically do the work. Bar staff usually get the best time on the piste (as most shifts are at night, leaving the daytime free), although the late finishing times, especially in clubs, can make you feel pretty knackered and reluctant to ski in the mornings, so it does tend to balance out.

To be a chalet host, you need to be able to cook - and not just beans on toast, spag bol etc - you're looking at a week of 3-course meals that you can prepare quickly and efficiently, as well as being able to adapt to people with allergies, and kids. If you're not confident in the kitchen, then this is not the job for you. In addition to this, you have to clean the chalet, and provide things like breakfast, and afternoon cakes (which you will bake), as well as being able to get up early, smile, and treat your guests like royalty, even when you have a stinking hangover. You get one day a week off, and on transfer day each week (when everyone leaves/arrives), you'll have to clean the chalet totally, in readiness for your new guests.

Working as a waiter requires a good degree of fluency in the local language (more than any other job at the same pay grade), and a tolerance for long shifts, standing up for hours. Tips are good, which does mean you will get a good wage most of the time, although obviously that does vary. Kitchen portering is a bit of a grotty job - dishwashing, kitchen cleaning, basic kitchen prep, although time on the piste is generally pretty good. Working as a chef requires prior experience, and it's a stressful job, which offers the least amount of time on the hill of any hospitality job.

Working as hotel staff will see you cleaning rooms, the hotel in general, and helping guests, although most guest contact will be through a resort representative (or Rep). It can be a lot of hard work, and pretty monotonous.

Childcare positions seem to be universally taken on by women, although it's not a pre-requisite. You don't get as much time on the piste as other jobs, due to you being responsible for the kids of the people who are away skiing. Personally, I would suggest that this is not a good choice if you are wanting to do a ski season, as it just doesn't give you the opportunities to get on the snow that you'd want... you also have to deal with children, many of them spoiled, annoying, and generally not much fun.

Finally, ski techs are often required by tour operators to service the tonnes of equipment that they provide to their guests - this is also one of the few jobs that private companies in resort advertise for too. You'll need to have experience of working in a ski shop though, so unless that's what you've been doing since you turned 16, this may be a tricky job to get on your first season (unless the employer is willing to train you up!).

The application process is old fashioned and long winded. Most tour operators will have their application forms available online; however, some will require you to print them off and return them by post. Most jobs will also require at least one trip to London, or possibly Brighton, as that's where the ski companies interview, although some of the largest companies conduct tours of the country to find staff, and interview them on the day; keep an eye out for these, as they can save you a lot of time and money.

The best website in the world for seasonnaire advice is www.natives.co.uk. It is where most of the ski jobs in the world are advertised at the end of each summer - you will almost certainly be applying to work for a British company that operates in Europe - most jobs are with Tour Operators and their Hospitality divisions. When the jobs are put up on Natives, you can apply for some of them online, but many will require you to download application forms and apply by post.

The next stage is often a group interview, where they will whittle down the numbers of applicants by getting you to answer a series of questions, and perform group tasks. I have no experience of this stage - my job in a bar was a late application, and I was interviewed in a bar round the corner from the tour operator's offices! You may then have an individual interview, although that depends on the company, and the position.

As I mentioned, most of these interviews take place in or around the South of England - I'm from Scotland, and none of them were flexible about doing a phone interview, so I ended up having to commute to London for a 40 minute interview, and then get the train back up. Be prepared to travel for interviews, if you're dead set on getting a particular job - companies do appreciate you making the effort!

Beyond that... employment packages vary between companies, although one thing is constant; the wage you will receive will probably be the lowest rate you've ever been paid! To balance that, you normally receive accommodation, lift pass, food, transport to and from resort, ski/board hire (board hire often costs more) and occasionally insurance (if it's not provided, then you MUST buy it - medical bills can run into thousands for broken bones, especially if they require surgery). You'll also need your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which is the replacement for the E111 form, as this takes care of something like 80% of the cost of any major medical treatment.

Of course, there are other options to do a season - the above are jobs you can get that will pay you through, whilst giving you time to ski/board; if you have the cash, then you can always consider paying for season accommodation and just going on holiday for 6 months, or doing an instructor training course. Be aware that both of these options are INCREDIBLY expensive, and you probably won't have as good a time as you would if you were working with a bunch of other like-minded people!

Think I've covered pretty much everything there... any further questions, post in this thread and I will help wherever possible

Cheers,
JP
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belle_27
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#2
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Damn, I've used my rep up for today! But why don't you try to get this stickied? Because it's really useful! Plus next season it'll be pages down and the same questions will be asked all over again.
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BiscuitFuelled
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#3
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Thanks to the mods, this is now firmly stuck
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Pink*Guildhall
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i guess this might be the appropriate place for me to post. i'm currently doing a ski season in norway. i thought that i would really enjoy it, but i've had little compulsion to go skiing and i hate the work (hotel work, cleaning). in fact, i'm quitting and heading home. i think it's partly down to the place, which is very isolated, not my thing at all, but i've also decided that whereas one or two weeks holiday is nice, anything longer and it loses the novelty. i want to see colour now, not just shades of white, black and grey. i want to be able to walk around without having to wear thermals all the time. etc etc.

anyway, that's just my opinion. i would advice people to think very carefully about whether they are making the right decision.
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dani_88
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#5
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I'm currently doing a ski season in Switzerland in the Alps - and i have to say i absolutely love it! I love the work, the skiing, the people..
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zulu
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when shud I apply to start Nov 2007?
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dani_88
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I applied about 2 wks before i started! But i think you can start applying fairly early in the year..?
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BiscuitFuelled
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Ski jobs for the coming winter generally start getting advertised towards the end of the summer months; i.e. July-September time. As mentioned above, they can be found on both the tour operator websites, as well as places like Natives.co.uk
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zulu
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Hey Ive applied to a few through natives.
Most companies show chalet host vacancies, is this a hard job?
I think im looking for chalet/hotel assistant.. I want the job where you waitress and clean rooms as this is the job where you get maximum slope time.. right???
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GreenCloud
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#10
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Anyone that's willing to work DAMN hard for a few months to get some cash together (or if you've just got sickeningly rich parents) have a look at:

www.nonstopski.com

They've got a great range of courses starting in January and at the moment I think I'm heading off to Fernie to do an 11 week instructors course next year.
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tequila
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I've never heard anyone make a ski season sound less appealing though! You've focused on all the bad points of the jobs and how difficult they are to get.....
Its not that bad (unless you work for Crystal). In fact, its pretty damn good!
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crema
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(Original post by BiscuitFuelled)
The majority of ski jobs are with UK based companies, and they normally insist (although this does vary between companies) that:

1) You are a British Citizen
2) You have a British Passport
3) You have a UK bank account
4) You have a UK National Insurance Number
You don't actually have to be a UK citizen to get a job through these companies, but it is imperative you have a bank account in UK and national insurance number. This is because the taxes the companies have to pay per employee to UK are much much smaller than what they would have to pay if they hired them under French/Swiss employement law.

I agree with you about the jobs though. Personally I think working as a waitress or a kitchen porter in a evening-restaurant are the best hour-wise for the skiing. You usually start work around 5-6 and finish around 12-01, you get your days off and get to go back home relatively early to sleep so you can get up in the morning for the slopes. You also get tips and free food =)

The best job I had though when I was doing a season was to work in a french club in the cloakroom 2 late nights a week. Had all my week free for skiing and drinking, and on the weekend, even if I was really tired, I could go for a bit on the slopes if it was very good weather. It felt like a one long holiday...
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Kidders
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Don't know if i'm allowed to post this, if not please remove or whatever, but if it's ok my mum works for a ski company called Stanford Ski and is a England based company, each year they recruit new people to go and work over there, november to April (or there abouts) Well basically if you are interested go on their website, http://www.stanfordskiing.co.uk/ they take chefs, challet girls/ boys, bar staff and others too so if you want give them a shout! lol!

BTW it's in France, so not too far away if thats an issue!
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tequila
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Tehe...cheers for that. I've bookmarked it with the other companies I'm looking at for next year
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BiscuitFuelled
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(Original post by crema)
You don't actually have to be a UK citizen to get a job through these companies, but it is imperative you have a bank account in UK and national insurance number. This is because the taxes the companies have to pay per employee to UK are much much smaller than what they would have to pay if they hired them under French/Swiss employment law.
Some companies do specify that you do need a British passport - I had to provide a photocopy of mine to my employer. Guess it just depends on the employer.
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UNKN0WN
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Do you have to be able to speak the language to do certain jobs though?
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Kidders
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(Original post by CE)
Do you have to be able to speak the language to do certain jobs though?
Only speaqking form the company i'm familiar withs p.ov. but all the people that go with them are ERnglish speaking, from Australia, New Zealand, England etc and don't speak French (it's in France) However, this is mainly beacuse only English speaking people tend to travel with Stanford and therefore it is not needed. The instuctors, waiters in restaurants and shop keepers all speak French and very good English so there was no need for the guys and girls doing a season to learn much French!
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BiscuitFuelled
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Many companies ask that their front of house (i.e. those involved in dealing with the public) can understand and speak the local language to a reasonable level. That means bar staff, wait staff, reception, resort reps, and additionally, most admin jobs (as they have to deal with other local businesses) will have language requirements attached.

Even if there is no mention of a language being required, then having one on your CV will put you clear ahead of anyone who doesn't, as it is a highly useful skill to have when working abroad.
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BelleReve
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i am seriously interested in doing a ski season in the alps somewhere, but as i also want to go travelling in asia, i can forsee that i will probably not be able to afford both.

is there anyway that i can go out on a ski season in november, and then finish some point in january? i was just wondering if anyone had experiences with this, and if there are any places that offer such things - surely they are many people who don't want to be out for an entire ski season?

thanks for the help!
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BelleReve
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also, i would quite like to go to a more lively resort and work as a chalet girl/hotel staff! any recommendations?
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