Mountain Spy

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September 2006


SAM goes undercover.
The Question:

I moved here from Colombia a few years ago and I do have a green card. I've been snowboarding for the past couple of years and I love it. I am calling to see if you have any openings at your area?


For this edition of Mountain Spy, our 007 Liz Eren teamed up with SAM part-timer, Astrid Ramirez-Jacobs. Armed with a phone and a great Spanish accent, Astrid hit the lines to try and gauge how areas handle HR and how welcoming they are to diversity. As always, we called a geographic mix of ski areas, as well as a mix of small, medium and large areas. Astrid rated her experiences on a scale from one to ten with some commentary.


Vermont, Large Area

First contact: Automated machine, 3 choices, none were HR, chose reservations.

Answering phone: Young girl.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK, let me transfer you to someone that can help you with that.

Hold time: 10 seconds.

SAM: Restated question.

Staff: We actually go through a company called IWS which is International Work Solutions. If you want to give them a call. Let me get their number for you.

SAM: OK, thanks.

Staff: Do you have an H2B?

SAM: No, I'm a legal resident.

Staff: What kind of visa do you have?

SAM: No, I don't need a visa, I'm a legal citizen.

Staff: Where are you from?

SAM: I live in Massachusetts. I'm looking for a winter job because I know this is the time of year that you usually start to hire people.

Staff: Well, we don't have any housing or insurance here, though, so you might not like it. I would probably suggest XX ski area or XX area. I would check there…OK?

SAM: OK.

Staff: OK then, thanks a lot.

Rating: 2


Comment: First, she assumed I needed to go through an international program even though I stated at the beginning that I am a legal resident. And even after I restated that fact, she clearly had her doubts. In HR, the person answering the phone should, minimally, understand what a legal resident is. And punting me down the road to two other ski areas? I am utterly baffled.





California, Day Area

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator.

Answering phone: Woman. Very receptive and friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Well yes, we'll definitely have openings for snowboard instructors…

SAM: Well, I'm actually not that good. I love it, though, so I'm looking for any job at the mountain.

Staff: OK, let's see, do you have a social security number?

SAM: Yes I do.

Staff: Oh perfect, so you're completely legal to work in the United States on your own.

SAM: Definitely.

Staff: OK, well we're going to have a job fair on xx and then another one on xx. Where do you live?

SAM: I live in L.A.

Staff: Oh, OK, that's great. Then the best thing you could do is come up to one of our job fairs and that way you can meet all of the department advisors and find out which one would work best for you.

SAM: OK, thanks a lot.

Staff: No problem.

Rating: 8


Comment: Though not a ball of energy, she got to the bottom of my legal status in a simple way and then pointed me in the right direction, and even added an explanation of why it's good to attend the job fairs. Almost perfect.





Montana, Large Area

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator option, transferred to HR.

Answering phone: Woman, great mood.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Um, are you looking for an opening right now or were you looking for the winter?

SAM: I am looking for the winter.

Staff: Um, ahh, we'll have a ton of openings for the winter and they all will be on the website in about three weeks. So check and see which one you'll like and then you can fill out an application and we'll give you a call.

SAM: Oh great, thanks. (waiting for a website. . .nope.) What's the website I can visit?

Staff: Oh, it's xxx.com.

SAM: OK, thanks so much.

Staff: Oh you're welcome, thanks for calling.

Rating: 8.5


Comment: VERY nice and led me through the process so I could be prepared for the time when they do start hiring. Minus points for the website omission, but grade A for attitude.





Maine, Small Area

First Contact: Automated machine, chose operator option.

Answering phone: Woman, quick to answer.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Well, we already have eight from Argentina to teach skiing. (And that affects me how?)

SAM: Oh, well I don't mind other jobs besides teaching…

Staff:Nope, that's pretty much all we need. Thank you though for calling.

SAM: OK, well thank you.

Staff: You're welcome, good luck.

Rating: 2


Comment: OK, perhaps they only have a quota of eight people with accents? Do they not want any individual interest for a job? At least she wished me luck.





Medium Area, Michigan

First contact: Real person! Woman, quick to answer though.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Oh no, we don't right now. We don't hire until the winter.

SAM: Oh OK... (cut off)

Staff: OK, bye.

Rating: 0


Comment: Not only will I not call back there for a job, I will never visit as their guest. Unless there was a fire raging at her door, there was no need for practically hanging up on me.





Medium Area, New York

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator and administration services.

Answering phone: Woman, nice.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Umm, I'm not sure. One moment. (Woman holds the phone away, but still close enough that I can clearly hear her, and repeats the question to her colleague. However, she changes my question and gets all the details wrong.)

Staff: OK, um, you'll have to come through the agency that we work with, OK?

SAM: Well, how come? I'm a legal resident so I don't need a sponsor or any visa.

Staff: Um OK, let me send you over to Paula.(Transferred to accounts payable. Answering machine.)

Rating: 3


Comment: She tried to help out the best she could by asking another person, but she did not repeat the question correctly and didn't try to understand it any better. Unfortunately, just not enough effort. And the transfer to accounts payable? I hung up thoroughly confused.





Medium Area, Minnesota

First contact: Young woman, very nice.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: There could be, I'm not sure if we have any right at the moment… are you looking for full time?

SAM:Yes I am, for the winter.

Staff: Oh OK, well then you can just send in an application by going online at xxx.com and it'll give you a full listing of what's available for the winter.

SAM: OK, thank you.

Staff: Oh, you're welcome, thank you.

Rating: 7


Comment: Super polite. Got to the point without rushing. She told me the basics of exactly what I needed to get started. Solid effort.





Colorado, Large Area

First contact: Automated machine on automated caffeine. Spoke WAY TOO FAST, chose operator.

Answering phone: Woman, also having recently enjoyed an energy drink.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Um, hold on, let me transfer you to the right person.

Answering phone: Enthusiastic sounding woman.

SAM: Restated question.

Staff: Um, to teach snowboarding or skiing?

SAM: Um, not particularly. I'm not that good but I love it. I'm looking for any type of job at the mountain, really, so if you have any openings at all.

Staff: Absolutely, you said you have a green card?

SAM: Yes, I do.

Staff: Well great. I have jobs working inside with children. I also have jobs as cooks for the children. Things of that sort. Where do you live?

SAM: I live in Denver.

Staff: OK perfect. Well If you go to our website. . .if you go to xxx.com. Let me check for you quick first if we have that posting available. Are you looking for full- or part-time work?

SAM: I was looking for full-time during the winter.

Staff: OK, that's good. OK I got it. So if you go to xxx.com and go to the very bottom and click on jobs-it says "get a job." Haha sort of an interesting way of putting it, don't you think? (So excited, such a nice change.) And then it'll ask you what job type and then it'll say management or ski school. It says that we have available. . .hmmm It says we have childcare attendants, etc. and what you can do is click on any of those and you can apply online. And then you can put my name on the listing-my name is Jane Smith. What is your name?

SAM: Gave her a name.

Staff: OK great, I'm looking forward to seeing your application. So glad that you called!

Rating: 9.5


Comment: Extremely pumped that I was calling and asking for a job-someone finally cares! Talked me through where to go on the website-even better. She made it feel personal, which is a huge deal! If I didn't have this job, I might consider moving west...


Identity Revealed: Winter Park.





Vermont, Large area

First Contact: Automated machine, 5 options, chose general resort info.

Answering phone: Young woman, friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK umm I can transfer you down to HR, they can let you know what they have available. Hold on one second.

SAM: Restated question.

Answering phone: Woman, sort of friendly.

Staff: Um, we do have some. Do you have computer access?

SAM: Yes I do.

Staff: Go to, go to um, xxx.com.

SAM: OK. Do you have any housing? I live in Massachusetts…

Staff: Um, if you're coming for the winter, there may be… you'd have to talk to our housing manager. I can't transfer you, because we're in a temporary location right now and our computers are all off so I can't really transfer you, but if you call XX, his number is xxx-xxx-xxxx and he can help you out.

SAM: OK, thanks a lot.

Staff: No problem.

Rating: 5


Comment: Immediately led me to a website she thought could handle all my questions, but it might not have, who knows, she didn't tell me anything about it.





Large Day Area, Massachusetts

First Contact: Automated machine, 9 options, chose operator.

Answering phone: Woman, fast talker but friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: What you probably want to do is come up to our career fair that we have ever year in the fall.

SAM: When is it?

Staff: Hold on one second, it's in September but let me check the date.

Staff: As of right now it's scheduled for September 11. They haven't set a time yet so I'm not sure about that. (Silence.)

SAM: OK, well do you have any housing at all?

Staff: The mountain itself doesn't provide any housing. (Silence again.)

SAM: All right then, thank you.

Staff: You're welcome. Bye.

Rating: 5


Comment: Career fair will obviously give me all the info that I need. However she didn't give me a time, didn't give the website where I can keep a tab on it to find out the time and didn't offer where to find directions, etc. A bad grade for the complete shot down about housing. Tough way to end a conversation. Leaves me looking somewhere else.





Medium Area, New York

First contact: Automated machine, chose 0 for further assistance.

Answering phone: Woman, nice.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK, let me connect you to that department.

SAM: Restated question.

Staff: Not at this time. (Dry tone.)

SAM: OK then. Thank you.

Staff: You're welcome. Sorry. Bye.

Rating: 1


Comment: Be sorry you didn't give me anything else to work with… When there might be any openings, are there ever any openings? Something, anything? She said sorry, so at least her manners grant her a rating of 1.





Large Area, Colorado

First Contact: Automated machine, 9 options, chose the one with the most departments.

Answering phone: Woman, anxious.

SAM: Stated question...she interrupted the question and transferred me to personnel.

SAM: Restated question.

Staff: We do, um… If you want to go on our website. Do you have access to the internet?

SAM:Yes I do.

Staff: OK, go to xxx.com and go to Jobs, it'll be listed at the very bottom. If you click on that it'll list all the winter jobs.

SAM: Just a quick question, do you have any housing at all?

Staff: We actually don't, but there is information on the site there about other options for you.

SAM: OK, thanks a lot.

Staff: You're welcome.

Rating: 7


Comment: Short and semi sweet. Directed right to the website with guidance on where to go. Could have tried to get involved a little more, too distant and lacked any warmth.





Large area, California

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator, transferred to HR dept.

Answering phone: Young girl, friendly.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yeah we do actually. We're starting to hire for next winter. There's a current list of all of our job openings online. You can do the applications online and start the whole process there.

SAM: Do you offer housing at all?

Staff: We do offer it. It's all done through the department managers though. So it's not guaranteed that you'll get it but once you apply online you'll start working through all of that.

SAM: OK, thanks so much.

Staff: You're welcome.

Rating: 8


Comment: Friendly and simple-where to go and where to start the application process. But I'm picky and she didn't give me the website address.





Large area, Wyoming

First contact: Automated machine, chose customer service, transferred to HR.

Answering Phone: Young girl, nice and patient.

SAM:Stated question.

Staff: Um yeah, do you live in the area?

SAM: Yes, but not too close so I was wondering if you provided housing?

Staff: Umm, we could. We have been reserving apartments through xxx Apartments. And, um, the thing is a lot of people in those places have just left to go back to college so we gave up some of the units. However we could definitely try to get one for you. So yeah, what we have is seasonal or year-round. You could stop in or go to our website at xxx.com. You can go right to jobs and look around there and either apply online or send in a resume. Starting there would be the best thing to do.

SAM: OK, thanks so much.

Staff: No problem.

Rating: 8.5


Comment: I felt that she really wanted to help as much as she could for my situation. She gave me the website before I asked and listed the options I could chose from. Patient, helpful and polite. Actually made me want to work there.





Large Area, Idaho

First Contact: Automated machine, chose customer service, transferred to HR.

Answering phone: Woman. Sounded like she was under the influence of a drowsy cold medicine.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yeeaah… all of our available listings… are on the… uuh, the Internet (15 seconds to mutter that one sentence). So if you want to work for us just go to our website and fill out an application. And then you can send in a letter with all your information and your situation, that you have a green card and those things.

SAM: OK, I'll check out your website. (Haven't told me what it is yet though!)

Staff: Yeeah, you should do that. So yeah, the address is xxx.com and you'll see the jobs available.

SAM:Sounds good, thanks.

Staff: You're welcome.

Rating: 4


Comment: Decent information on where to go, but wow, I thought the woman was going to fall asleep on the phone.





Large area, Vermont

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: I believe we do. Do you have computer access?

SAM: Yes, I do.

Staff: OK, good, so If you go to xxx.com you can see a full list of our job offerings that we have right now.

SAM: OK, perfect, thanks. One more question, do you offer any housing?

Staff: Um, I don't know if we do that (SiIence).

SAM: Well OK then...(interrupted)

Staff: OK, you're welcome. Bye! (I never said Thank You!!)

Rating: 2


Comment: OK, yes she told me the website, and she was nice and direct, but she was definitely not paying attention to me or my questions.





Medium area, Pennsylvania

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator option.

Answering phone: Young woman, nice.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Uh, we don't really. You're still welcome to fill out an application. We could keep your application on file for the future.

SAM: OK, well, where can I fill one out?

Staff: You can fill it out right here at the mountain…. (silence).

SAM: Um, OK, then, thank you.

Staff: You're welcome. Bye!

Rating: 3


Comment: Nice, but not very helpful. I had to extract the information.





Small area, Connecticut

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator option.

Answering phone: Young woman.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: OK, we don't hire until December.

SAM: OK, thank you.

Staff: OK, bye.

Rating: 1


Comment: One point for at least saying when they hire. Overall, though, a poor effort.





Medium area, New Hampshire

First contact: Automated machine, chose operator option.

Answering phone: Woman, not very happy sounding.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Excuse me? You're looking for who?

SAM: I'm looking for any type of job you might have.

Staff: We're not hiring right now… (silence).

SAM: OK, um, thanks I guess.

Staff: Uh, you're welcome. Bye.

Rating: .5


Comment: Very unfriendly person. And, if they are not hiring right now, they could tell me when they are.





Medium area, Pennsylvania

First Contact: Automated machine, chose operator option.

Answering phone: Woman, a little unenthusiastic.

SAM: Stated question .

Staff: Um, you can ahh, umm, hold one second.

Staff: OK, umm you can get on our website and get info. Do you, ahh, have it?

SAM: No I don't.

Staff: OK, it's xxx.com and also we have a, uhh, job fair on X date from X a.m. to X p.m. and then on X date from X p.m. to X p.m. Uhh, yeah, those are right.

SAM:OK, thank you.

Staff:Uhh, OK, you're welcome.

Rating: 6


Comment: Too many uhhhs and ums. Had more to offer than the others, though, and she got the basics out. Can't fault her too horribly.

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