Eight students from Western’s School of Business traveled to Vail Headquarters in Broomfield last semester to get an inside look at how the ski industry behemoth operates.
The students, under the direction of Western professor Michael Vieregge, Ph.D., reached out directly to the corporate office to coordinate the visit. This offered Western students the informal chance to connect one-on-one with industry professionals.
While there they met with representatives from departments including hospitality finance, hospitality marketing, risk management and even the vice president of hospitality operations. They also learned about Vail’s management training program.
As Vail has expanded its influence in the Gunnison Valley, the trip gave students like Resort Management junior Jessica Knutson a glimpse into the company she may one day work for.
“Vail has so many departments and options for a career, whether it be at the corporate office or…at one of their many resorts throughout the U.S.” Knutson said. “It was interesting hearing from each of the different departments and what they all do for the company and contributions towards the end goal.”
For students like Knutson, the networking potential of the trip was a key part of the experience.
“It is a great opportunity for students to go out and talk with people from companies that they want to work for and be able to connect with them and have a good conversation with them about your future,” she said.
Knutson believes she wouldn’t have had access to a hands-on learning opportunity like this at a larger university.
“It is something unique to Western and it is great that we, as Western students, are able to get so many amazing opportunities with bigger companies, especially Vail Resorts, and build connections [with] the people [who] work there,” she said.
Moving forward Knutson plans to utilize her experience and the connections she made at Vail Headquarters to forge a career path.
“The big lesson that I learned through this experience is that it is good to start early and look into what you specifically want to do for a career,” she said. “[There are] so many opportunities within their company so it is good to figure out what I’d like to do and find a job that I’ll love.”