Ski breaks keep people happy, happy people do good work
An interview with Matt Fersch, Talent Acquisition Coordinator & Ski Instructor, Aspen Skiing Company
In a few sentences, describe your current job(s) and path to get there:
As a Talent Acquisition Coordinator, I am responsible for seeking out and recruiting quality candidates and helping match them into a role that is ideal for all parties. Helping them through everything from paperwork and the onboarding process to finding housing.
I spent 12 years as a ski pro (instructor) here, after a series of injuries and looking for a change. I took a job at the Little Nell (our 5-star hotel in Aspen) as the Adventure Concierge.
I was so impressed with how smooth my transition was made and how helpful the Talent Acquisition Team was. I decided my next goal was to be a part of Talent Acquisition.
What questions do you ask when helping candidates really define their ideal career scenario?
- What is your motivation to live in a mountain town?
- Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years – what are your goals?
- What tools do you need to reach your goals or ideal success?
What does a mountain town offer for your lifestyle that you just couldn’t find in the city? Why do you stay?
Access to outdoor recreation. A sense of community brought together by the kindred spirit that brings us to the mountains.
It’s a healthy place to live. The mountains are a great place for everything from exercise to meditation.
How do you define success for your mountain career? What does success look like for you at this place in your life?
Success to me is having a balance in my life. A career that blends well with my personal life. A balance of time for friends family and career. Having a career that is stimulating while also being rewarding, brings me peace and balance in my life – this is my success.
What’s one common myth you’d love to debunk about building a career in the mountains?
Ski Bums are lazy – They are the hardest working people. It takes passion, courage, and sacrifice to commit to a lifestyle you love in the mountains. Not to mention most work 40+ hours a week. – Not Bums! Also that you have to know exactly what your goals and plans are.
What’s the first thing you’d point to when someone asks for help with housing in the mountains?
I’d do my best to offer whatever housing we have available that a candidate is eligible for including our “Tenants for Turns Program” – we offer a ski pass or voucher to a landlord housing ASC employees. I’d help direct them to community subsidized housing, as well as offer a plethora of resources for free-market housing options.
Who is one person who has impacted you or supported your career? What did they teach you? Why is this important to your success?
Brandon Kessler at The Little Nell – Took a chance on me in a role I had never performed before (Adventure Concierge). With strong training and access to helpful resources including Brandon himself. I was able to develop a better understanding and inside look at company operations and systems. As well as, giving me the freedom to work as a self-starter on projects for the Adventure Concierge team. This gave me the confidence and drive to continue my career with the company.
What was a milestone moment for your mountain career where you felt like you “figured it out,” and what steps did you take to get there?
I am always evolving and learning. Being voted a Top Ski instructor by our community and peers really gave me positive reinforcement for the connections and relationships I’ve built in this town and community.
How do you see your mountain lifestyle outside of work influencing you during your workday? How has it made you a better professional?
It has given me a focus on self-care. Managing physical, mental, and emotional strains, the mountains are a great training ground and place to reset.
This keeps me sharp through long days and allows me to recover faster and work more effectively.
Ski breaks keep people happy, happy people do good work.
Have you ever had pushback from your family, friends, or counterparts about your decision to live and work in the mountains? How did you cope with it if so?
Absolutely, I think everyone from my hometown in Indiana has called me a Ski Bum. Personally, I took it as motivation. After a few years of being committed to this life. My passion became clear, the comments seemed to develop admiration.
What is something you’ve learned about yourself throughout your time in the mountains that you don’t think you would’ve learned anywhere else?
I’m stronger and tougher mentally, emotionally, and physically than I ever imagined I could be. Nothing tests us and gives us perspective like the mountains.
If you had to go back and teach yourself one lesson about budgeting for your mountain lifestyle, what would that lesson be and why?
Carbon fiber mountain bikes are a slippery slope.
Money for housing – have money for first/last month’s rent and security deposit.
Plan to move a few times your first few years.
To plan further ahead than expected. Especially when working in a seasonal role in the mountains. Your season can be affected by unforeseen factors: shortened season due to weather, possible injury, extended offseason – These things can happen and it’s important to have savings.
Some people move to the mountains expecting it to be a dream but realize there are oftentimes challenges and struggles involved. What would you say to prepare them for some of the realities of building a life and career in the mountains?
Off-seasons can be long. Prepare – a good time of the year to travel and visit friends and family.
Starting a new life anywhere is going to have its challenges. Mountain towns have their unique set of challenges. Fortunately, our small town has a strong sense of community. I also point out our internal support network including myself as a resource for helpful information on living here.
What makes working at Aspen Skiing Company so special?
The people. Most of us come from all over the country and world. There’s something special that brings us all here and connects us to these mountains. Kindred Spirits
Resumes and qualifications aside, what are the three main things you would tell job seekers they need to focus on when they’re pursuing opportunities with Aspen Skiing Company?
Focus on your interest, and what will get you excited to start your day. Be outgoing. If there’s something you’re interested in, just ask! Communication is key.
Why should locals, who already live in the Roaring Fork Valley consider a career with Aspen Skiing Company? Any ideas on the best way to reach others and spread the message?
The mountains are what make our town unique and special. To be a part of what makes our town and valley so special is what excites me to work for the company and would like to think our locals feel the same way.
I believe in reaching locals at a young age and exposing them to many opportunities and positions that ASC offers in their backyard. Training apprenticeships and internships for local High School and College students.
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