Are you considering doing your first season?
If you’ve had some extra spare time recently, due to lockdown, or if you’ve come to the conclusion that everything is a bit ‘meh’ and mundane, and you’d like to shake it up a bit and get the adventures flowing, then you may be thinking about taking on a holiday job and getting your first season under your belt.
Our expert seasonnaire Cookie is the man in the know to guide you through the pitfalls and advice of taking on seasonal work. Read his following articles and it may help you to make up your mind:
So you’re thinking of doing your first season?
Summer or winter? UK or overseas? What job should I do? Will I be homesick? Who should I work for? What do I pack? What can I expect? So many things to consider before you begin your first season. How to make sense of it all and where to begin?
I’m afraid you can’t expect to read this and get all the answers; but I’m writing this with around 15 years of summer and winter seasons under my belt, and experience in so many different areas on offer to seasonaires now, so I may be able to make a little sense of the opportunities available and considerations to make before jumping on a plane!
I’ve broken this down into three main phases of beginning your first season, and that’s a key part to the way I’m approaching this advice – your first season. Once you’ve got your foot in the door and some experience under your belt, the advice I’d offer and opportunities you have will change.
I think we should start with a few season truths…
The experience you have in holiday destinations as a tourist is worlds apart from living and working there. It’s not as glamorous as you may have seen! Maybe you’re thinking of working a season because you’ve been on holiday and seen someone working there have fun. What you see when you’re on holiday is not the full truth (as with any job). Every job has its behind the scenes bit!
Insta vs reality
Picture the classic social media posts of Instagram vs reality – working on a beach doesn’t mean sunbathing and chilling with cocktails all day, and repping doesn’t usually involve a line of people queueing up to kiss you on a bar crawl! Or maybe you’ve seen the film Chalet Girl – not what you can expect from doing a ski season!
If you’re lucky enough to get staff food, it won’t be what the guests receive out the front! Hotels and chalets serve up glamorous food for the guests on huge buffets or table service, but don’t expect this to be what you’re getting served in your staff areas!
Can you survive late nights and early starts? There will likely be a lot of them! Seasons are hard work and long hours, usually blended together with active social lives!
Calling in sick with a hangover is only going to make life hard for your co-workers / friends! There is not an endless supply of staff, and if you’ve had a late night, chances are so have your colleagues! Not making it to work because you’re feeling fragile is a ‘no no’.
Most places don’t give away free drinks or drop prices just because you work there!
At some point, regardless of your job, you’ll have to deal with a client that’s not happy – and chances are it’s not your fault but you’re the one to deal with it!
Are you tough enough?!
A few starting questions that you need to answer before beginning your adventure…
- Are you mentally strong enough to spend months away from you family and friends? (The answer should be ‘yes’!)
- Can you handle living and working in basic shared accommodation with strangers? (The answer should be ‘yes’!)
- Do you enjoy structure, timekeeping, and regular hours – the classic 9-5? (The answer for these purposes should be ‘no’!) I hope not! Although many seasonal jobs will have rotas and timesheets, there is the general understanding that you start at the beginning of your shift
and finish when the job is done!
My life couldn’t be more active! As a full-time instructor, coach & trainer, I thrive seeing others enjoy sports as much as I do.
My passions are windsurfing, skiing and snowboarding, and I love trying to inspire people to get active through social channels (and some polite peer pressure of course!).
I’m into all kinds of sports – basically anything that gets me outside and moving!
A particular love is speed-riding – like low-level parachuting with skis on, high speed skimming across the snow.
Find me a sport I haven’t tried and I’d love to give it a go!
My seasonal journey began straight from college, and is now split into two seasons.
Through the winter I live in Alpe d’Huez, working as ski and snowboard instructor and off-piste guide for the local ESF school. I teach everything from beginners to advanced and off-piste on both skis and a board. I started winters with the simple love of being in the mountain and riding.
I have done a wide mix of jobs over the years that allowed me to ski and board a lot – bars, hotels, chalets, repping and operations management. It’s amazing the people you meet through the years and opportunities that arise.
My skills were improving over the seasons, particularly in back-country and off-piste. I then became friends with the director of a local ski school while in the ski resort Flaine, who encouraged me to work for him the following year, to train and become an instructor with his school. The rest, as they say, is history (thanks again Theo!).
Through my winter life I’ve also been lucky enough to hook up with a number of brands as a sponsored athlete and brand ambassador. Huge thanks to Whitedot Ski, Planks Clothing, Cassette Optics and OLFI action-cameras for all your help and support.
The summer sees me working as a Resort Manager for Neilson Holidays. I’ve worked summers with them since 2006, across Turkey, Egypt and Greece in a variety of roles, leading me to now head up the operations in one of our Beach Club resorts. Our centres include windsurfing, sailing, stand-up paddling, biking, tennis, fitness, waterskiing & wakeboarding, and kids clubs. The last few summers I’ve been in the Cosmos Hotel, Vassiliki, a mecca for watersports with some epic biking and fitness facilities available too!
If anyone is looking for advice or to chat through options for work and overseas life, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via my Instagram feed at @cookiesport