Craving adventure, Nico Williams traded in his comfortable job as a security consultant to become a ski instructor in Japan. Here's his story.
I was working a comfortable job as a security consultant for a large multinational corporation. In this role, I travelled and earned good money. On paper, I had it made. But, after five years, I realised it was time to step outside my comfort zone and try something new. So, I packed up my things and returned home to Wales.
I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew what kind of life I wanted to live. I'd never considered becoming a ski instructor until I heard about a company called EA Ski & Snowboard from a friend. I saw they would help me travel to a new country, become a ski instructor and get a job. The idea of getting paid to ski was too good to pass up, so I decided that's what I was going to do next.
Becoming a ski instructor isn't cheap. I'm a pretty creative person, and EA gave me the chance to put my photography skills to work. I became a Brand Ambassador which meant in exchange for producing content for EA to use on their Instagram and Facebook pages; I got a discount on my instructor course. Keep an eye out for Brand Ambassador role if you're creative.
I chose to go to Club Med based in Hokkaido, Japan. Japan is heaven on earth for anyone who loves powder snow. I'd never been to Japan before, and I liked the idea of travelling to a new country and immersing myself in a new culture. At this point in my life, I was ready to throw myself in the deep end and try something new.
Unlike other ski resorts, Club Med pay their instructor staff salaries, which was reassuring as I knew what I'd be earning each week. This also meant I wasn't just getting paid to rock up, teach lessons and leave. Sometimes I'd be showing new guests around the resort or helping the theatre show crew. This isn't for everyone, but I loved it. Club Med is also fantastic if you want to experience some of the best food on the planet. They have some of the best chefs I’ve ever come across, and staff eat free!
The most valuable thing I learned during my instructor course at Club Med is that patience is key. As a ski instructor, you'll be teaching people from all walks of life. Often, your students won't speak English as their first language, and they're going to be nervous. It's your job to make them feel confident and have a good time in the snow. You'll need to learn to explain things slowly and use visual and kinesthetic queues to help them learn.
As an instructor, it's not your job to get students flying down black slopes by the end of the day. It's about finding out what success means to your students and helping them take smalls steps to get there. My favourite students to teach are those who have never skied before. They arrive at their lesson nervous as hell, but after a couple of days, you've helped them build the confidence to ski around the mountain with their family and friends. It's hard to explain in words how that feels. But knowing you've helped a person achieve something they didn't think they could do is the best feeling in the world.
My life has definitely changed since completing my internship with EA Ski & Snowboard. During my training, I fell in love with teaching and realised ski education is what I want to pursue. Right now, I'm back in the merchant shipping scene saving some coin so I can do my Level 2 instructor course next season. After that, I plan to chase winter for as long as possible.
Becoming a ski instructor was the best investment in myself I've ever made. What I've realised is that it’s never too late to make a change in your life, try something new, and turn what you love into a career.
If you're considering becoming a ski instructor, my advice to you take the plunge and do it. Risk it for a Biscuit.
Follow Nico's adventures on Instagram @nico_wills