Always wish you’d done a ski season or spent more time in the mountains? When Katherine turned 49 she took a break from her bank job and spent seven weeks skiing with Nonstop.
She discovered a whole new world and made the mountains her home. As Katherine found out, it’s never too late to take a career break or start doing seasons.
It began with a career break
Before becoming a ski rep, I’d worked in banking for my entire career, first as a Bank Manager with Halifax and then as an Area Manager for their Real Estate business. I enjoyed my work and was earning good money but always knew there was something more. I was 49 and thought it was time to do something for myself.
I enjoyed my work and was earning good money but always knew there was something more.
I wanted to take a proper break from work, not just a quick holiday, so I joined Nonstop in Canada for seven weeks and three courses: a 2 week snow safari, followed by a 2 week improvement camp, capped off with a 3 week instructor course in Fernie. As well as achieving my CSIA level 1, the snow safari through the Rockies was a particular highlight: getting to experience several resorts in BC with a guide to show us the best places on at each mountain.
I’ve got so many fond memories of my time with Nonstop, not least of which was realising I needed to make a real lifestyle change. Meeting the coaches and hosts that worked for Nonstop got me dreaming. I was envious of their setup: living in Fernie and skiing all winter. I felt at home in the mountains and started to think, “why can’t I make a life here too?”
Getting it out of my system
After my time in Canada, I spent a season in Katschberg, Austria, a typical European resort in the Central Eastern Alps. Katschberg itself is quite small but it’s linked with many other ski areas, so there is a huge amount of skiing to enjoy.
I’d achieved my CSIA level 1 with Nonstop and, although it helped me to enter the industry, I’ve never worked as an instructor. Instead, I became a ski rep for Neilson. This role involves all the usual ‘rep’ stuff – airport pickups, transfers, getting guests settled in, sorting out their ski hire and lessons, and just generally making sure they have the best holiday ever.
I had only planned on working in Katschberg for one season – to ‘get it out of my system'. As I intended on going back to my old career, I wasn’t worried about giving up my life up in the UK. But, of course, I didn’t get it out of my system. I completely fell in love with the lifestyle and carved out a whole new career in the ski industry.
Being a mature seasonaire
Let’s address the elephant in the room. I’m a lot older than your typical seasonaire but I’ve never once felt out of place. People who work in the ski industry are so friendly and embracing. Being surrounded by young guns full of energy has definitely kept me youthful. The younger reps always invite me on nights out, although I tend to keep my socialising to weekend trips and avoid all the crazy stuff. It’s a great balance.
I’m a lot older than your typical seasonaire but I’ve never once felt out of place.
Living in the mountains and skiing all winter is amazing. It may sound cheesy but I genuinely love helping people have a good time on their holiday. Some people have told me that I’ve ‘made their holiday’, which is just lovely to hear.
I get plenty of time to ski – I could ski five days a week if I wanted to – but I’m often too tired to go every day. Before I worked in the industry I would never miss an opportunity to ski but you become pickier when you live in the mountains. I now choose the days with the best conditions, and sometimes just go up for a coffee and one run. It’s a hard life.
Making the lifestyle work
What I love most about this lifestyle is feeling at home in other countries. I love living in the mountains and, when I walk to work each day, I genuinely reflect on how lucky I am. It’s a great feeling to have.
What I love most about this lifestyle is feeling at home in other countries. I love living in the mountains and, when I walk to work each day, I genuinely reflect on how lucky I am.
During my summers I work as front of house with Neilson, managing the reception on the Greek island of Lemnos. I’ve also worked as a rep and tour guide in Westendorf for Inghams, where they operate mountain bike and walking holidays. I keep myself extremely busy, just how I like it, and am away and working all year round.
I have around three weeks off between the summer and winter seasons. I’m signed on with a temp agency so I can get work if I want to, but I prefer to spend quality time with family and friends. Not getting to see them enough is the only drawback of my new life, but it makes it all the more special when I’m back in the UK. Apart from that, there’s very little I miss about my old life.
Just do it
If you’re contemplating a career change, my advice is to not overthink it. You can spend ages weighing up the pros and cons and never take the leap. So just do it. Try it for a season and you can always go back to your old career if you want to. And don’t worry about what your friends and family think, do it for yourself.
We look forward to speaking with you.