Meet Peter Holter, WorkBright’s Director of Customer Success and the guy who keeps us focused and connected to on our end-users… the Mission Critical Workforce. Whenever we start talking through new features or try to address a new problem a customer has brought up, Peter is one of the key team members that keeps us focused on the seasonal, contract, freelance, part-time, temporary and contingent workforces that are actually using the system every day.
Why? Because he lived it and still does! As both a Mission Critical employee for multiple companies and as a Mission Critical Workforce manager for Vail Resorts. Peter embodies the adventurous, passion-seeking spirit that draws people to Mission Critical work.
So this February, we sat down with Peter to talk through the benefits and struggles of stringing together several different jobs throughout the year to create a sustainable lifestyle, and how he continues to contribute to the Mission Critical Workforce today!
Read Peter’s story below, and if you know anyone that embodies the Mission Critical Workforce spirit and works several jobs in a year to create a sustainable lifestyle, we’d love to feature them in 2016! Nominate them by clicking here.
My first job ever was when I was 13 as a caddy on the golf course. My older brother was doing it and I pretty much followed him into whatever he was doing. Plus it was a good job to have as a young kid because you could work as much or as little as you wanted to. If you hung out there you could get a loop and go make a few bucks. It was $10 for 18 holes so not a great wage but I did it for two summers and I got to be outside and make a little cash. So I guess that was a first entrepreneurial experience!
Was that what lead you into the Mission Critical Workforce?
”I just wanted to get to a place where I was doing what I wanted to be doing all the time which was being outside and skiing.”
No, I got into it because I love to ski. I moved to Colorado from Minnesota with the specific intention of becoming a ski instructor at Vail.
My first year out of college I worked at office for 11 months. I was 22 and wasn’t digging it. I didn’t feel like I was doing what I wanted to be doing with my time, and I placed no value at the time on things like health insurance, saving money, etc.. I just wanted to get to a place where I was doing what I wanted to be doing all the time which was being outside and skiing. So it was a way to turn my passion into what I could do all day.
No plan. I literally had no plan as to what I would do after the winter. It was ingrained in me from teachers, society, etc. that I needed to settle into something steady and consistent after college. But I wasn’t into the office job I had, so I looked at that first winter of instructing as 4-5 months then I have to figure out what I REALLY need to be doing. At the beginning I thought it was short term, I did not think I would stay for 7 years.
So how did you find your next job?
I had such a good time that first winter that by spring time I was thinking, how do I make sure I can do this again? The way to ensure that you can do that again, is by finding some sort of employment in between. There are two options here: find something else seasonal that fills the time period nicely or find something that you don’t care about and can leave easily when your better job picks back up.
“There are two options here: find something else seasonal that fills the time period nicely or find something that you don’t care about and can leave easily when your better job picks back up.”
So the first summer out there I went the latter route and got a job as a valet that I could scale back from 5 nights a week to 1 or 2 when the ski season was back. I quickly realized that was not true to my personality. There was no passion around being a valet and the winter season wasn’t enough to fulfill me year round so the next summer I corrected that.
The next summer I worked for an outdoor program in Vail that had a very defined summer season. This enabled me to do what I was really enjoying about the winter season but without the skiing – being outside, teaching and empowering kids and living that adventurous life.
So once you found your summer job and your winter job, what was the biggest challenge?
The summer season job was great but unlike the valet job, it had a defined start and end date. That introduced a new set of problems because I had gaps in the spring and fall. I wasn’t planning well in the beginning, so during those lulls in the year, you hit this point where you have time but no money so you’re not really equipped to get out and do these big things most people would want to do with big blocks of time.
To account for that I picked up work doing maintenance at the golf course or the tennis courts in town. Every time I thought about leaving that lifestyle it was during the spring or fall when I wasn’t doing one of the jobs I was passionate about. When I wasn’t making full use of who I was as a person.
The two jobs that I built my year around were skiing at Vail and Adventures Cross-Country – in both I was working with kids, in the outdoors, teaching activities, teaching leadership, teamwork, group dynamics, that’s what got me excited. The things I did in the spring and fall were to string those together and they were definitely the biggest challenge.
How long did you work in the Mission Critical Workforce?
I still am! I did it full time for 7 years and am now in my 5th winter as a part-time ski instructor for Vail. I love it and think it will always be a piece of who I am.
You also worked as a Mission Critical Workforce manager. What do you think was unique about managing a team like this?
Yes, I was promoted to management and I was part of a team of 3 with the Vail childrens ski school that managed a staff of 210 ski and snowboard instructors. The business was growing every year and even if we had retained 100% of instructors, we still would have had to hire to keep up with Vail’s growth.
Our biggest focus every year was, how do we retain more of these instructors so they are excited about coming back next season? That lessened the number of good new instructors we needed to look for and train. Now Vail is a little different in that they attract a lot of great candidates. A lot of these are people, like myself, moved out to Colorado with the intention of working at Vail. In contrast to a lot of other places, the brand and reputation drew in top talent. Our problem was filtering the candidates and finding the ones that would fit our team well.
How did you find those good fit employees then? Looking for anything in particular that fit the profile of a good Mission Critical employee?
“We could find good team members if their passion was in line with the position.“
We could find good team members if their passion was in line with the position. In the children’s ski school, we were looking to see if you were applying because you were excited about teaching and leading kids or because you wanted to go skiing and get a free pass. Obviously, ski skills are a part of the job and when you get on the snow it shakes that skill out pretty easily. The biggest thing we were looking for is does working with kids give you energy and get you excited. That’s how we found our best team members that we wanted to help stay for longer than one season.
What advice would you give to other Mission Critical Workforce members about creating a sustainable lifestyle?
The reason I was able to do it and find it exciting for so long is that more than half of my year was filled by the passion jobs. My biggest piece of advice if you are in a mission critical job that you love, go find another job that incorporates some of those same passions in a different season. Get more than half of your year filled by what you’re passionate about, and you’ll still feel like you’re using your time well during the lulls.
Second, plan really well. Look ahead to the next season or project. The best year I had as a MCW member, I went to east Africa on a tour with kids, I came back to the states for 4 days then turned around and took a personal trip with a friend to Norway for a month. By the time I came back, I only had a few weeks before my winter job started and that was all facilitated by good planning.
Any last notes?
“When you are around the things that you love, you will be around like minded people who love what they’re doing too. […] If you’re really lucky, you’ll meet the love of your life like I did.”
I really encourage people to pursue this lifestyle, especially at a young age when you are transitioning. When you are around the things that you love, you will be around like minded people who love what they’re doing too. I met some of my best friends in these jobs and now have them all around the world. If you’re really lucky, you’ll meet the love of your life like I did. I look back on it and even if I didn’t save a dollar in my 20s, I wouldn’t trade the people I met (especially my wife) and the experiences I had for anything.
If you work with the Mission Critical Workforce and are not currently using WorkBright for your onboarding, Request a free demonstration here.