By Mike Evans
These days it seems fairly common for people to embark on a gap year, either before or after University. When I made the decision to go and do a snowboard season before I went to University I was one of the only people I knew who wasn’t going straight back into studying. It had always been my plan to go travelling or do something after school and having just finished fifteen years in education, I needed a break.
As an avid snowboarder, desperate to try and get some more time on snow, I decided that I would do a season. As I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford to go to the Alps, I decided to try and get a job in an American resort. After weeks of sending off applications, I found myself a job as a lift operator at The Canyons resort in Park City, Utah.
Despite having a job guaranteed when I got out there, I wanted to have a bit of money in the bank before I went. As September rolled around and all of my friends disappeared to their respective Universities I stayed put working a job in a call centre as well as a bar job. It was hard work and as all my friends seemed to be having such a good time I wondered if I’d made the right decision.
I went out to Park City with little idea of how things were going to pan out. In the free running up to my departure I had spent time trying to find housemates for a condo I’d had signed up for. After spending a great deal of time trawling through Craigslist, I eventually found six people. I didn’t know anything about them, but I hoped we’d get along.
Looking back, I had nothing to worry about. Not just the people I lived with, but everyone I met throughout my season turned out to be friends that I would keep in touch with to this day. Most of us shared a common love of skiing or snowboarding and those who had come out for the season to learn for the first time soon came to feel the same way. My work hours varied but I always had time to go snowboarding. I really enjoyed my job and it paid fairly well, not to mention living expenses were low so I was never short of money. I even managed to save enough over the six months to spend some time travelling afterwards. Speaking to some of my other friends who had done other season jobs, I felt like I got a pretty good deal.
For anybody looking to do a season, I would strongly recommend looking further than the Alps. If you’re an outdoors person then you may already know that Utah is a mecca with a lot to offer. America has some of the best resorts in the world and you don’t have to learn another language. It’s never been easier to access the information needed to arrange your Visa, sort out accommodation and find work.
Natives is a great place to start looking for jobs, with plenty of relevant forums and websites available to advise you. For first timers, it may be a bit daunting trying to get sorted, so make sure you spend some time researching what you might need to know before you go.
I definitely made the right decision to go and do my season. I came back feeling refreshed and much more ready for University than when I left. It’s something I’d recommend to everyone and is a great learning curve for somebody who may have not ventured that far away from home before.