I might not have the best track record with staying at jobs for longer than a year or two, but for about 10 years they all have been, more or less, related to marketing and communications. Moving to Switzerland, however, put an end to my marketing career, and allowed me to experience working at a ski rental shop, outdoor clothing store and, now, a skydiving company. Read on if you want to hear how I’ve been doing in the Swiss seasonal job market for the past year.
So here’s the thing… Never before in my life have I ever done occasional seasonal jobs, or anything that would not be related to my passion, qualifications, and training. That is, from my very first job to the last job back in Manchester it was either journalism, public relations or marketing (digital or traditional). Always an office job.
Therefore, it has always been the same old story when it came to changing jobs. I would update my CV with the latest job experience and qualifications, and send it out to companies that fit my profile. I have also experienced situations when I’ve been “poached” from one agency over to another or received a dozen job offers once the word hit the street that I’m available.
Finding A Job In Switzerland – Not An Easy Mission
I knew that moving to Switzerland would be a whole new game. Not because I wouldn’t be qualified or willing to keep doing the same jobs. I probably would, but we live in a small countryside town where marketing office jobs are rare. Here it all rotates around the tourism industry, and as a foreigner with no Swiss German skills, I could only hope for a seasonal job.
In my naivety, I didn’t realize that finding a job the traditional way would be near impossible here. I was sending out tens of emails responding to job ads in the newspaper and on company websites, I was trying out my luck at places where they weren’t actively looking for people… and not a single reply. Nada!
I moved here in July, which was the height of the summer season. That alone meant that my chances of finding something were slim. I still had quite a bit of savings, and was comfortable with waiting out until the winter season begins. But I couldn’t help but think that the lack of non-office job experience was the reason for me getting the cold shoulder from everyone. Or was it?
You Only Need One Chance
As luck would have it, my chance arrived right before the time ran out for me to book my India trip (if I hadn’t secured a job, I couldn’t financially afford India and a job-less winter season). Through friends, I heard of a ski rental shop up in Wengen (a dreamy mountain resort town) that was looking for winter staff. I sent my CV in right away and soon heard back with an invitation for a chat.
I met with a lovely English family that owns and runs a small ski rental shop and was positively impressed with them and the business they had set up. I really wanted this job! And so I got it… a couple of months later I started my daily commute to Wengen for long and exhausting, but satisfying days of making sure our customers have the best skiing experience.
Dream Job In The Mountains
My job entailed advising customers on the best ski and snowboard rental choice, fitting the boots, setting up skis and snowboards, managing online bookings and reserving the needed equipment etc. It was totally out of my comfort zone, but I loved it from the very first day. I was able to enjoy waking up in the mornings and going to work again.
The shop owners were great bosses who would never spare appreciation for a job well done, the rest of the team were amazing (such a family vibe!), and the location couldn’t be better as you could not get any closer to the mountains. Yes, it took me about an hour each way to get to work and back, but it is one of the most scenic train rides you can imagine. Plus, I could test all the equipment and meet lots of interesting people.
I also enjoyed working with people this way – they come to us to have a great holiday experience, and I have the chance to help make that happen right there and then. Yes, I still struggle sometimes when serving people because of my shyness and social anxiety, but it is so satisfying when you can help people directly and hear great feedback. Plus, challenging myself to overcome my fear of social interactions is a good therapy.
The main thing I missed when working in marketing was the purpose. But here it was simple – do your job well and people will be happy. And at no point I felt ashamed that I have swapped my exciting, glamorous, high-paced and award-winning career in marketing for this. I was living the dream!
Short-Lived Career In T-Shirt Folding
As summer approached, I knew I had to start looking for a new job as the ski rental shop was just a seasonal gig. Yet again, I faced the same issue – no one replied to my emails. Until one day a good friend of my boss walked into the shop sharing information that there’s an outdoor clothing shop in Interlaken that needs new people for the summer season.
I guess you know what happened next – I sent my application, went in for a chat and a little trial shift and was hired soon after. As you have learned by now – for us foreigners here working seasonal jobs, knowing people who know people is the best way to get around. Yes, it complicates things, but this is how the system works.
At first, I enjoyed my new summer job a lot – it was exciting, and at times felt like me getting the job was a bit of a miracle. Here I had to step out of my comfort zone even more. I didn’t speak Swiss German, and later it turned out to be quite a necessary skill for this job.
This and the long hours (a lot of which were spent biding time), was one of the reasons I was constantly anxious and worn out. Plus, I wanted to get out there – enjoy the summer. I found my refuge in the never-ending piles of t-shirts I folded and refolded several times a day.
To be honest, this way I was just giving my OCD-ish tendencies (which would always flare up when I feel anxious) an outlet to wear off. Amongst millions of things on my mind, a reoccurring trail of thought was to find a way out of this job.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way saying that this job was horrible. I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially when new collections would arrive and I was entrusted to arrange it all, dress up mannequins and make sure it looks nice and the layout makes sense. I could actually imagine myself doing something like this for a living, but I’m diverting here…
Yes, I Can Edit Videos!
Since I moved to Switzerland, I have always thought how cool it would be to work for one of the numerous outdoor companies around here, but somehow that didn’t come to life. Until my boyfriend, who works for a skydiving company, mentioned they might need some additional forces on the video editor front.
I had never used any video editing software for work, but how hard could it be? I have learned so many other things before, am clever and extremely tech-savvy… this should be doable, right? This confidence (so untypical of me!) was overshadowed with a bit of doubt – will I learn it easily, will I be quick enough, will they like me? But I had to go for it.
I’ve been doing this for a week and a half now, and so far enjoying it to the fullest. Video editing is not super hard to learn, especially if you work with video templates like we do. And the video content that I have to work with is amazing – happy people jumping out of planes over the incredible Swiss Alps scenery. One can’t help but smile most of the time! I still need to catch up with my workmates’ working speed, though, but I’m sure I’ll get there.
Most importantly, this job does not make me stress about it. And to me, a super anxious person, this is a great job to have. We will see how things unfold in the near future, but this as a summer job and ski rental shop for winters would be the perfect combination of season jobs here in the mountains.