Darren Parris graduated from SnowSkool Big White in 2022 and went on to work there over the 2022 / 23 season and the 2023 / 24 season.

I caught up with him to get a flavour of his journey from fledgling career break thoughts to qualified (and working) ski instructor.

Why SnowSkool Big White? 

At 29 Darren was looking for a bit of a change in his life. ‘Before starting the course I was a primary school teacher. I loved my job but needed something different for a while; and skiing a season had always been a dream – becoming an instructor, even better!’ 

Darren started to research his options and plumped for the SnowSkool course in Big White because it offered everything he was looking for at a price he was happy with. Chatting things through with the team at SnowSkool was really helpful in making sure Darren booked the course that would suit him best.

As a slightly older than average student Big White appealed partly because it is a resort with an older crowd (23 yrs was the average age on the course). Darren also liked the on-hill accommodation with a short walk to the ski school meeting point - ‘living on the hill was brilliant; no need to wake up too early! SnowSkool also organised a single room for me at a good price, which gave me my own space

As the start of the course approached, the pre-departure information and support offered by SnowSkool ensured that Darren’s experience was a success from the off.

Arriving in Canada for the first time was a great experience, and it was really fun to experience this with like-minded people. The course was fantastic with amazing instructors who really helped develop my skiing and get me ready for the exams’ 

Reflections on the training, qualifications and getting an instructor job 

Darren gained his Level 1 and Level 2 CSIA qualifications meaning that he was qualified to teach internationally at the end of the course.

We got the chance to ski with some incredible trainers who turned our skiing around. As a bonus we were also given the opportunity to complete our Level 1 Avalanche Safety Training course.

Inspired and qualified, Darren decided to go for it and get on with pursuing instructing work straight away. 

I spoke to the head of the ski school here in Big White the day I received my Level 2. He gave me the details on how to apply and I went from there’ 

Darren researched how to get a Canadian working holiday, applied and submitted his documents and before he knew it was on a plane back to Canada to work as a ski instructor. 

The top tip here from listening to Darren’s journey is to apply for a job as well as a visa as soon as you can after gaining your qualifications. This gives you the best possible chance of securing work for the following season.

How’s the instructing going and what next? 

Darren is loving his working life in Big White, working across the kids and the adult classes and experiencing all the ski school has to offer. With his primary school background, it made sense for Darren to take on the role of Pod Leader in the kids centre and he is generally enjoying getting more involved in the day to day running the centre as well as teaching his classes. 

He has also continued to develop his skills and knowledge. ‘Whilst being employed at Big White, one of the biggest perks is receiving continued instruction from the ski school. This means we get to ski with the Level 4 instructors in our free time and can work towards our Level 3 qualification – opening up yet more doors for work’ 

As the season draws to a close, Darren is looking to extend his visa in order to go on to do a third season in Canada. He’s also looking further ahead and hopes to travel to Japan or New Zealand for more ski instructing adventures. Go for it Darren!

And what does Darren have to say to anybody thinking of doing a SnowSkool Course? 

Do it! An instructor course is great and a lot of fun - on and off the piste. It was good fun getting to know new housemates and chill after a day’s skiing. If you don’t go into instructing afterwards, you will certainly know more about being a better skier and have plenty of memories on the way. A great way to spend three months ... you never know where it will lead!’ 

Thanks so much to Darren for sharing his experience.

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