Summary: Aspen Ski Company is leading the way in the industry. We went behind the scenes with their recruiting team to find out what makes working at Aspen Ski Company so special regardless of where you are in your career.
At Aspen Skiing Company, “it's about the connection to the outdoors and how that brings out the best in yourself." Mountain town professionals are all guided by the same career compass: where you live is as important as what you do. Yet, the paths to this success in the mountains are not always so clear, and it can take some insider knowledge and the help of fellow community members to navigate.
ASC is the Roaring Fork valley’s largest employer and is regularly voted as one of Colorado’s best places to work. What makes it different than landing a job at other mountain town employers? According to ASC’s Head of Talent Acquisition, Caleb Sample, it’s all about their career coaching - or the assembly of education, testimonials, advisors, and advocates - that showcases a long-term investment in the employee journey and cultivates a sense of community/belonging.
Mountain Careers decided to dive deep with the talent team at Aspen Ski Company, or ‘ASC’ as the company is nicknamed, to unveil paths of possibility in Aspen.
#1 Personal Career Coaching
Apply for a job with Aspen Skiing Company and you can expect a human-centric approach while talking to their talent team. Before even getting into skills, background, and salary details, a candid conversation is often needed to provide the cold, hard facts that candidates need to know regardless of the path they’re pursuing. The most pertinent topics candidates need to address are the realities of the job, cost of living, housing availability, healthcare, and childcare. Mikala Ford, one of ASC’s Talent Acquisition Managers, keeps it frank with candidates when it comes to this: “It is not easy to make the move, it is very expensive and it can be extremely stressful, taxing on your friends and family and you may have to live in conditions you aren't familiar with.”
This brass tax is why ASC shares ample information upfront. It provides an employee survival guide to go a step further in educating about what it’s really like to work at the company, and in the places they operate in general.
And once the discussion about job types and resumes does come into play, the TA team asks questions to help candidates better understand what they’re actually looking for:
- Do you need a job with housing?
- Do you prefer to work indoors or outdoors? Remote or in an office?
- What is your motivation to live in a mountain town?
- What are you trying to get out of your season or next career step?
- What tools do you need to be successful?
The talent team then starts to coach candidates through the logistics of how to make each person’s individual set of circumstances fit together, whether that’s pointing to certain opportunities inside or even outside the organization.
#2 Piecing together your happiness puzzle
Aspen Skiing Company realizes that to make a mountain career ‘work’ it’s like putting together pieces of a puzzle; you have to try a few things to figure out where it all fits together. ASC’s employee-only career fairs allow current employees to meet other departments they may not usually come in contact with which helps bridge the gap between seasons, educate staff about the company’s dynamics, and fosters networking at all levels of the organization. ASC invites other local employers to engage with ASC employees at these career fairs too because ultimately, the company just wants its people to stay in the valley even if that means working elsewhere.
When referring candidates away from the organization, Aspen Skiing Company is confident that there will be an eventual future relationship with the person. Given the strength of the offering at the various brands that ASC operates, they usually see these people as candidates again after they get settled in their career or within the valley in the years to come. More holistically, this reinforces the strong community dynamics at play in the mountains, and how ASC is looking for people who are invested in the community for the long haul, and not just for a season or two.
#3 Aspen Skiing Company also offers corporate jobs that are not-so-corporate.
For locals looking to connect to the heartbeat of their community and work for an aspirational company, this is a unique opportunity.
With offices located up and down the valley, corporate employees still live and work in the mountain community they serve. This offers a different type of career opportunity than other large ski corporations. Functions such as marketing, finance, accounting, and human resources offices are actually located in the mountains, and with remote working, you get the best of both worlds.
For locals looking to connect to the heartbeat of their community and work for an aspirational company, this is a unique opportunity. Matt Fersch, an ASC Talent Acquisition Coordinator, remarked about his experience shadowing ski patrollers, driving snowmobiles for the X Games, and helping set up for a World Cup race. Fersch’s experience exhibits that one can have a more corporate-leaning position in the mountains and still be involved with on-mountain operations.
#4 Aspen’s Community Approach
Prominent mountain towns like Aspen are actually quite small, tight-knit communities despite the scale that their wide-ranging notoriety and allure may convey. ASC’s talent strategy factors in the closeness of the community and recruits people not only on their professional acumen but also on their overall aptitude and appetite to be respectable neighbors in the valley. To that end, ASC has a variety of programs that signify its commitment to the community.
Aspen Skiing Company created the first environmental sustainability movement in the ski industry. Now, it publishes yearly sustainability reports, drives political action, and focuses on green operations. The company even sends out advice to employees on how to vote in elections so the environment is represented and change could be legislated. The Environment Foundation opens the door for employees to contribute to programs that tackle climate change on a regional level impacting the Roaring Fork valley. More than 1,600 ASC employees contribute annually.
#5 Keepin it real
Perhaps the biggest differentiator for ASC’s approach is the realness of it all. In reality, building a career in the mountains is tough, and the ASC talent acquisition team will be the first to admit it. But hey, nothing worth having comes easy.
Want to learn more about how you can become a part of the Aspen Skiing Company community? Caleb, Mikala, Matt and the rest of the Talent Acquisition team are ready to help you get started on charting your mountain career today! Connect with them on LinkedIn, their respective profile links are: Caleb Sample, Michael McGleam, Mikala Ford, Tanya Milelli, Wendy Walters, Claudia Craig, Ross Hastings, Michelle Tsou, Connor McGimsey
You can also email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The mountains are calling…