By Chandler Burgess
By Karen D. Lorentz
Editor’s Note: This is the third part of a series on graduates of the Killington School of Resort Management program of Green Mountain College. See the Oct. 8 story for details on the program at mountaintimes.info.
Fiona Gomes grew up on the ocean in Marblehead, Massachusetts. She realized her “true passion for mountains and snowboarding when my mom and I moved to Vermont right before my sophomore year in high school.”
During senior year, her older brother Yannick (see Oct. 15 Mountain Times spotlight) had moved to Killington after transferring from the University of Rhode Island to GMC’s Killington School of Resort Management. Fiona commented that before he transferred she was not sure what she wanted to do for college and was applying to schools like University of Vermont and University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
“All year my mom had been pressuring me to fill out applications daily, as my lack of action made it clear I wasn’t too excited about it . . . until Yannick started convincing me that GMC was the school for me,” she said of her brother’s fortuitous influence on her career path.
“It didn’t take more than one visit for me to make my mind up on where I wanted to go,” Fiona told the Mountain Times, noting that the first thing she did after her visit to the school was to fill out an application for GMC. “I told my mom that day I was sure that is where I wanted to go and that was that,” Fiona added.
Q&A with Fiona Gomes
Mountain Times: What made you so sure that this program was for you?
Fiona Gomes: The idea of working hands-on, making money, and snowboarding everyday—all while getting a college education, was very appealing to me. It was a three-year program that would give me the experience needed to make it in the real world. It almost seemed too good to be true, but not once did I have second thoughts about choosing this program.
MT: Was school a lot of hard work or was there time for some fun?
FG: A huge part of college is learning how to balance having fun and working hard.
We were faced with the ultimatum that if we got terminated from Killington Resort, then we also would get an automatic F for the required co-op class that we take during the winter while we are working full time. It’s a different type of “hard work” than most college students are used to, but it is an extremely effective way to teach us to be responsible for ourselves, and that plays a crucial role in preparing students for the real world. In one season, I was able to go snowboarding more times than I had gone in my entire life.
MT: And after graduation?
FG: After I graduated in June 2015, I became the marketing and sales administrative assistant for Killington Resort. I had started working at the front desk my first year up here but within a month, Yannick received a promotion that made him my supervisor, creating a conflict of interest. This is where I began my own journey into the world of ticket sales, which later progressed into the season pass office as a ticket operations agent. I called the pass office my home for two seasons, and this is where I began building my administrative skills and realizing this is an area of interest that I could truly excel in. Though an amazing learning experience, there was not much further up that I could go at the time in the pass office beyond the ticket operations coordinator, which is the position I was planning on going for by the end of last season. However, I couldn’t help feeling that I was ready to take on even more responsibility and learn more about other parts of the resort beyond tickets. Luckily, this opportunity came my way at the perfect time, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
MT: What are your responsibilities and what do you like about your job?
FG: I coordinate and carry out a variety of administrative functions for the marketing, sales, and events department. I am responsible for coordinating, organizing, and submitting budgets for marketing for both Killington and Pico, events, group sales, and conference sales, tracking spending for each of these departments and keeping the checkbooks up to date throughout the year. This position has been so beneficial to my learning experience, as throughout school we were constantly learning about all the different moving parts that make up a ski resort, and in my position I not only focus on one department, but three. By being so involved in each of these areas it has really allowed me to see how all departments have to work together to ensure the success of the resort as a whole. This position allows me to stay well informed of new opportunities and developments in the ski industry which I am so passionate about. It is hard work, but the great responsibility that I hold provides me with satisfaction and is truly rewarding.
MT: How does the mountain lifestyle suit you?
FG: There is nothing better than living and working on a giant playground. Everyone is basically here for the same reason, so it is very easy to make friends and connect with people who share the same passion as you. I am grateful to have an older brother who is so well respected in this tight-knit community and who welcomed me with open arms into the life he had built for himself in Killington. If it weren’t for him, my journey towards recognizing my true potential would have been much longer and confusing. I never expected that the older brother I spent years fighting with growing up would one day be my biggest role model! I feel I am right where I am supposed to be, and that is an extremely encouraging feeling to have at this point in my life as a fresh-out-of-college graduate.