At SOS’ annual Industry Day at Beaver Creek Mountain Resort 26 SOS Outreach (SOS) students, aged 13-18, exchanged questions and inquires for insight and inspiration with outdoor industry leaders
In a setting that encouraged open, forward-thinking conversation—SOS students prepared questions for a panel of outdoor industry leaders that included Alex Pashley, Athlete & Strategic Partnerships Manager at Smartwool, Brady Collings, VP of Marketing at Spyder, Jon Rucker, VP at Head USA Wintersports, Drew Dodd, Sr. Manager of Health and Safety at Beaver Creek Mountain, and Katie Waller, Community Communications Manager at Vail Resorts.
“It was really cool to ask the panel about their mentors that guided and supported them,” shares Miranda Aguirre, a sophomore at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards, Colo. “One of the things SOS has taught me is the value of having a mentor, someone who’s there for you and encourages you—like a friend or older sister. It’s cool to learn that a lot of people look up to mentors. That we all benefit from that. I didn’t realize that these leaders in their careers would have mentors too.”
Hosted in conjunction with SOS’ founding partner, Vail Resorts, Industry Day provides kids in local communities with the opportunity to gain a unique perspective at potential careers within the outdoor industry. They learn about everything from working on a resume to preparing for a job interview to tips on public speaking. Several more Industry Days are planned this winter in communities where SOS works including Lake Tahoe, Calif. and Park City, Utah.
Industry professionals shared stories of their journeys to their current roles today. The students learned that more often than not, those paths are quite windy—from stringing tennis rackets to product design, washing dishes to marketing, banking to ski operations, and forestry to philanthropy. The underlying theme: follow your passion. And for these professionals, that’s working in the ski industry.
“I started out washing dishes for a catering company,” confesses Alex Pashley, who now manages a diverse team of Smartwool athletes from skiers to snowboarders to mountaineers to ultra-runners. “Ultimately, I followed my interests and passions to lead me where I am today. When you do that, you don’t feel like it’s work. You’re doing something every day that you love.”
Advice from the panelists included the importance of having a supportive mentor in the industry you want to pursue, preparing for a job interview by practicing in front of a mirror, proofreading your resume for grammar errors, and making sure you’re interviewing the employer as much as they’re interviewing you.
“Having competed in SOS/USASA events as a kid growing up and now seeing the impact SOS is having with the youth, I feel it’s important for all of us to take a bit of time out of our busy schedules and help guide the youth of today,” shares Pashley. “Thank you, SOS, for giving all these kids the building blocks they need for a great future.”
Partnering with industry leaders leaves a lasting impact on our kids. As many SOS students start exploring opportunities after high school to carve their own paths and follow their dreams, these professionals highlight the possibilities that exist when your passion translates into your profession.
“Something I learned in the panel is you don’t have to follow someone else’s career, you can do your own thing,” says Franco Rodriguez, an 8th grader at Gypsum Creek Middle School. “Be passionate about what you want and go for your goals, because if you don’t like what you’re doing, it’s not fun and you won’t enjoy it. If you’re passionate about your job, then it isn’t really a job.”