Kickstarting your career in the outdoors – a conversation with the Mount Cook Apprentices
In December 2019, Mount Cook took on 3 apprentices for the first time ever – Elijah, Jade and Kenny. It turned out to be a bit longer than they anticipated due to the world slowing to a stop during the pandemic. We asked them about their experiences at Mount Cook.
Did you previously have any experience with outdoor education?
Elijah: Yes, I previously had experience in outdoor education as a volunteer young person for my local scout group. It’s what drove me to pursue a career in the outdoors and also how I found Mount Cook.
What made you want to start your career in the outdoors?
Elijah: Seeing the impact it had on young people’s lives during my work in scouting and experiencing it myself is what pushed me to work in outdoor education – particularly with young people!
Jade: I had always been passionate about being outdoors and sports and wanted to start my career doing something that would incorporate both.
What is the most valuable thing you have learnt during your apprenticeship with Mount Cook?
Elijah: The most valuable thing I have gained from Mount Cook is confidence! I have a voice now, both with groups and colleagues. This has translated into my personal life as well as meaning I can be a lot more friendly and talkative now.
Was being an apprentice during the pandemic difficult?
Elijah: Being an apprentice during the pandemic was definitely difficult. Getting on the job experience was limited and lockdown meant no groups to work with for a few months. However, due to the pandemic I now have a much broader range of experience in other areas of the centre, such a maintenance, housekeeping, duty managing and catering.
Jade: Furlough was a good time to learn new facts and skills to then take back with me to Mount Cook when the centre opened again.
What are your plans now you’ve finished your apprenticeship?
Jade: Now the apprenticeship is complete I plan to leave Mount Cook and gain more experience and try and stay within outdoor education and/or helping young people learn skills for life.
Elijah: I’d like to further my career development in outdoor education, whether that's here or at another outdoor activity centre.
About the apprenticeship...
The course itself is the IOL Level 3 Activity Instructor Apprenticeship and is perfect for anyone looking to get qualified and start their career in the outdoors. Our apprentices also have the opportunity to achieve nationally recognised qualifications like Outdoor First Aid, Lowland Leader and GB Archery.
Mitre Group (who have an office in the Mount Cook building) were the training provider and provided support to the apprentices.
Our apprentices’ main responsibilities were preparing sessions based on group information such as age, desired outcomes and additional needs, plus delivering a safe and successful session that meets set outcomes, and closing the session. They were taught to maintain and examine equipment to uphold safety standards, and review sessions to ensure a high-quality learning experience had been delivered.
Why choose a career in the outdoors?
Our CEO Steve Turner says: "A career in the outdoors is an excellent way to develop your skills across a range of disciplines.
Regardless of whether you want to be an activity instructor, a cook, or a housekeeper you will be part of the centre team family and have a wide set of opportunities within an enjoyable working environment.
The pandemic has provided everyone with a new found respect of the outdoors and an increasing demand to connect with nature and all the benefits it brings.
As an activity instructor you provide that conduit whether it’s through skills sessions such as bush craft or rock climbing or via more reflective activities such as team challenges. You will be working outside with your groups connecting directly with nature generating powerful lasting memories that they can take back to their families and schools.
Personally, you will be developing skills that you can take and apply in a whole range of other settings whether you have a desire to continue in the outdoor education sector or work in schools, youth work, hospitality, or leisure you will find no day is the same and that your CV is developing without even realising it.
If you enjoy working with people, if you enjoy outdoor activities and being outside and if you are prepared to turn your hand to a variety of tasks then you will probably enjoy the outdoor centre life."
If you have a passion for outdoor activities and would like to start your career in outdoor education check out our careers page here: www.mountcook/jobs-volunteering
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