Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Day in the Life of Vail Resorts’ E-Commerce Coordinator

When Charles Townsend first began his college search, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to study.

“I just wanted a school that had a lot to offer and also had good skiing nearby,” Charles said. “That’s why I came out to Colorado.”

However, it’s Charles’ job as Vail Resorts’ User Experience and E-Commerce Coordinator that has ultimately helped him earn a living and continue living in Colorado. Part of Charles’ role at Vail Resorts includes managing the e-commerce sections on the company’s different websites—from ski pass purchases or equipment rental. He also provides recommendations to the larger marketing organization on site usability, or giving the website a consistent look and feel that is both user-friendly and leads to a positive customer experience.

When he first arrived at CU and discovered that he had an interest in marketing, Charles began taking the prerequisite classes in order to apply to the Leeds School of Business. However, as soon as Charles discovered that he had to take classes he found less interesting before he could take marketing classes, he decided to explore his interest in sociology.

“I figured that would be a great application to marketing, to use my knowledge of large groups of people, as opposed to one person’s mind like in psychology, and leverage that knowledge in more of a marketing/advertising sense,” Charles said.

Around this time, Charles made an appointment to see a counselor at Career Services who helped him network and reach out to alumni. One of the alumni Charles met through CU’s alumni database was a sociology major who worked in the marketing field, and because of their shared backgrounds and interests, Charles was able to arrange a meeting with him. Charles developed a friendly relationship with this alumnus, who he spoke with about once a month. The CU alum accepted a position at Vail Resorts, and when he had been working there for about six months, Charles was just starting to look for internship opportunities for second semester of his senior year. During his search, Charles asked this friend about possible one day per week internship opportunities that might exist at Vail Resorts and ended up landing a spring internship with their online marketing department.

“That worked out great and that was my foot in the door,” Charles explained. “It gave me great exposure to the company and I really enjoyed it.”

Charles interned at Vail Resorts during the summer after his senior year until he was offered a full-time job in the group sales department. Charles worked in sales for about a year before his current position opened up in the online marketing department and he was able to transfer.

What does a day in Charles’ life look like?
> Around 7:30 a.m., Charles starts his morning with breakfast and spending some time with his dog out before heading to work.
> From 8 or 8:30 a.m. until around 5:30 or 6 p.m., Charles reviews and responds to emails, attends a meeting with his team or the IT development team, and troubleshoots and makes changes to various areas of the website.
> Charles finishes his day off with a 30-minute commute home.

What’s ahead for Charles?
“I love being in the online space and focusing on websites. I’d love to be able to spend more time exploring the local space. Another one of my responsibilities has been to oversee our local website platform and maintain those other sites which are different than the standard Vail.com that people visit.”
“In terms of the future, the online space is something I like being involved with. I’ve really enjoyed my time with Vail and hope that there will be some good opportunities that come up. I’m still looking for opportunities out there, but ideally, that next step up would be within my same department, but who knows? I think the online space is where I want to remain, and I want to keep working with passionate people who have similar personalities to me.”

What advice would you offer current CU students?
“I’d say definitely use Career Services for all they offer. I certainly tried to leverage that resource as much as I could by meeting with a career advisor once a week and getting job interviews even if it’s a job you know you won’t be interested in long-term—just having an interview is extremely helpful and helped me. It’s not like I just applied to my job at Vail; I applied to jobs through Career Services and while none were as exciting as Vail, they were all great experiences in terms of having that interview practice. I’d also say to be passionate about your major and what you’re interested in; it separates you from the rest of the pack. Embrace that instead of trying to hide it.”