Getting paid to ski or snowboard is so rad. But what do you actually do? Find out what you can expect being a ski instructor for a winter season.
6 months ago Naemie was stuck in England in a 9-5 job, 2 months later she was instructing and living the dream in the powder at Lake Louise Canada! Here we ask Naemie a few questions about her season in Canada as a ski instructor.
Q: What is your full name?
A: Naemie Wilson.
Q: How old are you?
A: 25 years old (just!)
Q: Where are you from?
A:The Isle of Man. (British Isles)
Q: How did you hear about the EA Ski and Snowboard Training gap year program?
A:I found the website through google.com whilst looking for career break options.
Q: Why did you decide to take part?
The course sounded really exciting and with all the training, and the guaranteed job placement at the end – it seemed like a winner!
Q: What did you hope to learn and experience?
A: I wanted to learn how to ski, teach skiing and experience life in a different country.
Q: Had you done anything similar in the past?
A:I work in an outdoor education centre at home, so I’m used to working outdoors, although not in quite so cold conditions!
Q: What kind of ski-ing background / experience did you have? Please explain?
A: I had been skiing a couple of times, once when I was 11 on a family holiday, and twice on school trips when I was 16/17. So not a lot of time on snow before I got out here!
Q: When did you arrive at the resort?
A: We arrived in Lake Louise on the 29th November 2011 after a 2 day orientation in Vancouver.
Q: What was your first impression like?
A: The mountains were huge! The views were beautiful, and it was freezing!!
Q: Where are you staying? Please describe?
A: Our EA group was put in staff accommodation up behind the Chateau Lake Louise, in the Colleague Services Building. It is very basic and quite old fashioned. We share a room between four people, and beneath our rooms is the Stables bar, which gets pretty loud on a few nights of the week.
Q: Who are you staying with?
A: I lived with Emily and Monica, and for a while another girl called Rose. Emily and Mon are on the EA course with me, and Rose worked in food and beverage up at the hill.
Q: How many interns do you work with?
A: All the interns from the EA course work at the hill, it started off with about 30 of us, but a few people have left to return home for uni/work.
Q: Where are they from?
A: Nearly all of us EA guys are from Britain or Australia.
Q: What do you do exactly?
I am employed by Lake Louise Ski School, I work 5 days a week teaching skiing, mostly to children. And on my days off I either free ski or have a chill out!
Q: Please describe, in some detail, a typical day.
A: A typical day at the ski school involves an 8.25am line up, if our schedule up until 10am is clear, we go down to kid ski and wait to see if we get any work. If we don’t get assigned to do shovelling, we have time to free ski, and continue to check in on the hour. There is another meeting at 1pm down at kids ski, and again, if we’re not assigned any work, we have to check in on the hour but still get to free ski in between.
Q: What have you learned so far from the experience?
A: Ski instructing doesn’t pay well! Unless you’re a super sales person! But it’s lots of fun, and you get to ski everyday – which is amazing!
Q: What’s been the biggest challenge to overcome, and why?
A: Missing my family and friends, I wish they could have all come out to visit!
Q: What’s been your most amazing experience? Please describe.
A: The most amazing experience since I’ve been here is doing the torchlight – We were pulled up Easy Street by skidoo, holding 2 metre long bamboo poles – flares attached to each end; the flares were lit once we’d gotten to the top, and then we skied down in a ‘snake’ to the bottom – this was a performance for a party that was being held in the Ten Peaks Lodge. It was absolutely amazing skiing in the dark, whilst holding flares to light the way. Before we skied down, we all stood at the top of the run just appreciating how lucky we all were to be part of such a unique and special event.
Q: Did anything funny / strange / unexpected happen to you? If so, tell us about it!
A: I managed to lose both of my big toenails due to ill-fitted ski boots! I spent the first month and a half of the season in absolute agony!
Q: How do you think taking part in this program will benefit you in the future?
A: It’s opened up my mind to wanting to live and work in different places around the world. It’s also given me more confidence in myself that I can achieve what I put my mind to.
Q: What do you hope to do in the remainder of your time there?
A: I hope I’ll get to visit a few places in and around Alberta, and I also hope to continue to improve my skiing in my final weeks.
Q: How do you feel about leaving and going back home?
A: I’m missing my friends and family a lot, but at the moment I’m not quite ready to go home; I would like to experience a Canadian Summer as I’ve heard so much about it!
Q: What are you planning to do next – work, university, etc.?
A: I’m planning on returning to work to save up some money, and then I’ll have to see where life takes me next!
Q: Would you recommend this program to other teens? If so, why?
A: I would recommend this program (not just to teens – I’m 25!), as it gives you the opportunity to work in a ski school as soon as you pass your level 1 CSIA exam, so you’re thrown straight in at the deep end and gain much more experience. It is a very expensive program though, and you don’t earn much money while you’re here, so as long as you go with the intention of just having fun and enjoying the experience for what it is then you’ll be fine!
Q: What do you think makes for an idea gap year experience?
A: Do something you’ve never done before or something you love doing – either way it’ll be an exciting experience! Moving to another country is slightly scary, but getting to experience a different way of life is amazing.
Q: Why did you decide to do a gap year now as opposed to at any other time?
A: I took 6 months unpaid leave from my current job because I was ready for a career break. I love working outdoors, and I wanted to improve my skiing, so i thought this would be a perfect to opportunity to do both. Part of me does wish I had done it earlier in my life though.
How can you become a ski or snowboard instructor Like Naemie?
Naemie took part on EA’s Instructor Internship – email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our instructor starter kit on the right hand panel of this page (scroll up a bit higher).