From education to employment

Snowboarding Instructor Sabbatical for Fire Security Apprentice

Whilst many of us are thinking about our next holiday, some may be looking forward to snow and a week of winter sports on the slopes. For South Eastern Regional College (SERC) Fire and Security Apprentice Adam Smylie, from Moira, a week on the slopes didn’t quite fit the bill. Having completed his Apprenticeship in Fire and Security Systems – and scooping the IFSEC Engineers of Tomorrow title for 2021 – the young man realised a long-held ambition, taking a six-month sabbatical from his job with Beacon Fire and Security in Lisburn, and headed to the slopes to teach snowboarding last winter.

Adam said, “I was lucky enough to be introduced to skiing and snowboarding during a week’s holiday in 2020, when I travelled with my family to Kitsteinhorn in Austria, a week before lockdown.

Adam Smylie took to the slopes for a snowboarding instructor sabbatical following successful completion of his Level 3 Fire & Security Systems Apprenticeship at SERC.

“For my sabbatical, I was living and working in Verbier, situated in the Vallee de Bagnes region in Switzerland.   It is the second most luxurious ski resort in the world, behind Aspen in Colorado.

“After passing my BASI Level 1 Snowboard Instructor course, and before completing my BASI Level 2, I worked for Les Elfes International, a private summer and winter camp for kids all over the world. My role was to take the children, usually about 5 in a group, for a day’s coaching on the mountain. Their abilities might range from absolute beginners who have never seen snow before, to advanced, for those kids who have grown up skiing and snowboarding.  Occasionally, I would have had additional responsibilities in the evening supervising some of the campers going into Verbier town or taking them sledding.

“For the BASI Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications in Snowboarding you need a number of hours (paid or unpaid) shadowing an experienced instructor. I shadowed Tom Wilburn at Independent Snowboard School in Verbier.   They specialise in private clients but also host a snowboard kids club for local children the weekends. I also did my instructor training course with SnoElite who provided you with a work placement. I would recommend going through a SnoElite Instructor training course, or similar, for your first season.”

“Outside my scheduled instructor training, as snowboarding is less popular than skiing in Verbier, I had a good amount of free time, which allowed me to develop my own snowboarding skills.  Being able to analyse your own riding is an invaluable skill that can help you progress much faster than relying on external sources alone.”

“Whist I was there, I stayed at Hotel Les Tourists with 35 other people – 30 of which were Danish. I shared a room with my now good friend Frederick from Denmark. It was very tight living, but I loved it as there was always someone around ready to hang out, or do things with, and as a natural extrovert it suited me well.”

Adam concluded, “I would recommend this experience to anyone who loves winter sports as much as I do. It’s been a fantastic experience to travel and meet new people and get outside your comfort zone.  If you are open and ready for a variety of new challenges, I would say go for it.   And of course, there is the amazing scenery and the opportunity to create unforgettable memories on and off the slopes.”

Adam’s adventures are set to continue – the young man is heading off to Japan for most of next year where he will be working remotely in Fire and Security Consultation and Outsourcing. He hopes to combine his role with Snowboard Instructing on the side.   After that, he plans to head to New Zealand. Visit to unlock your future #BetterOffAtSERC

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