Graduate Story – Aaron Craw

There is only one word on Aaron’s mind: Travel. From Antarctica to Swedish Lapland and everywhere in between, he’s been around the world and some. Coming across QRC’s Adventure Tourism Diploma he was sold on the spot, combining his love for the mountains with education – “easy choice!”.

“Today, 9 years and 16 ski seasons later, I think I can safely say it’s taken me around the world!!”

Why did you choose QRC?
From a young age, I always knew that I wanted to spend as much as I could in the mountains and was always looking for a way that I could work in the mountains. exploring all different avenues, I came across QRC’s tourism course, and (at the time) the snow sports specialisation they offered. The business aspect intrigued me and getting to combine that with being in the mountains…. Easy choice.

Tell me about your journey since leaving QRC.
Long story short. After that first season at Coronet Peak I quickly realised that this job/career/lifestyle could take me round the world. Not long after graduation, I was back at Coronet completing another winter this time as a snowmaker and that kick started the journey of my back to back ski season life. Today, 9 years and 16 ski seasons later, I think I can safely say it’s taken me around the world!! I’ve worked from the never ending daylight of Antarctica to the eternal darkness of Swedish Lapland in the Arctic Circle, and throw in the bottomless powder of Japan and America. It’s made for one hell of a journey… Already I’ve learned so much, not just in my role as a groomer but the cultures I’ve been able to experience and the people I’ve met along the way, it’s exciting to see where the next adventure leads.

For me though New Zealand will always be home. While at home I’ve applied a similar approach to my overseas travels where I’ve wanted to experience everything we have to offer as a country which has led me to work across the whole country. From Queenstown and Coronet peak, I moved to Rainbow ski field in Nelson for a season, I spent a summer working at Cardrona bike park and currently I’m on my 6th year at Whakapapa, Mt Ruapehu – can’t seem to leave this place.

How did your time at QRC help prepare you for your current job?
It provided me with the basic fundamentals of how a business runs, and if you want to move up within a business, it’s important that you have a broad view and understanding of every aspect of how that business operates. I may just be a simple groomer but I quite often join in on meetings/discussions, and get given responsibilities about other aspects of the operation due to the knowledge I learned at QRC.

What role are you in now?
Officially. I’m the Grooming Supervisor at Whakapapa. Unofficially I hold the title of  ‘S**t Job Supervisor’ and ‘Plaza Host’ (I’ll explain these over the next few questions haha).

What are your main responsibilities?
My job is to oversee the grooming at night and make sure the ski field is groomed to a high standard, so when you arrive ready for that first chair in the morning you can safely rip down the slopes with a smile on your face. Usually for me this involves coordinating the team at night, making sure we are doing everything we need too and doing it as efficiently as possible so we aren’t wasting time driving over the same places unnecessarily. The machines may be painted racing red but they aren’t very fast. So If it gets to 9am and we haven’t finished, then I’ve done something wrong.

Oh yeah also, on weekends. I put on a pink vest and go stand in the plaza and help people who are up the mountain for the first time!

What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
Apart from getting to travel the world doing what I love? Hmmm well there’s the classic clichés “No 2 days are the same” or “Do something you love and you never have to work a day in your life”. But I think for me it’s the people you get to meet along the way. It’s the  lifelong friends you make from all over the world, from all walks of life. That’s what keeps me in this lifestyle. Season after season. Year after year.

What are your plans for the future?
Oooo well that’s a good question. Depending on how far into the future we are looking, there are still a few places I would like to tick off like Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Argentina before I think about the next chapter of my life. I’m still having way too much fun to stop now. That’s as far as I’ve thought so far. Although I did start a lockdown side hustle of making candles, so maybe I’ll become a candle maker. Who knows?

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?
My sister once told me “it doesn’t matter what experience you’ve got, how long you have been doing a job. If you get asked to scrub a toilet, you scrub that toilet and you make it the cleanest toilet ever”. What I took from that was you are never too important to do something. which I like to think I’ve carried through my life and subsequently where my title of “S**t Job Supervisor” comes from. I’m always the one that ends up doing the jobs no one else wants to do.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?
Look after number 1! Despite what anyone tells you, you’re the most important person, so make decisions based on what’s going to make you happy. And remember everyday is a school day. The world is a big and wonderful place. Take every opportunity you can to learn and experience everything you can about it. Oh also, if you could look after your knees please, that’d be great. And maybe take up yoga? Future Aaron would appreciate that.

Learn More About Our Courses:

Adventure Tourism Management
Hospitality Management 
Machine Learning

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