Industry experts from Arc’teryx, Burton, Camber Outdoors and Osprey Packs share their advice
Transitioning from outdoor enthusiast to a career in the outdoor industry might seem daunting. Where do you begin? How do you find out about opportunities? Will your skills translate?
To help you get started, we enlisted the help of four women who are crushing it in their outdoor careers. We recently hosted discussions on Facebook and Twitter, in partnership with Camber Outdoors, a national organization dedicated to achieving equality for women in the active-outdoor industries.
Our panel of experts included:
- Brylee Geddis, designer, Ascent at Arc’teryx, North Vancouver, British Columbia
- Katie Mah, designer, Hardgoods, LEAF & Accessories at Arc’teryx
- Kami York-Feirn, social media specialist at Osprey Packs, Cortez, Colorado
- Lesley Betts, senior product manager, Hardgoods at Burton Snowboards, Burlington, Vermont
Clockwise starting with the upper left: Brylee (PC: Angela Percival Photography), Katie (PC: Tom Schindfessel), Lesley and Kami
Here’s a recap of some of the top questions from our community and our experts’ responses.
How did you break into the industry and what was your first position?
Katie, Arc’teryx: I’ve been a climber most of my life, but have always loved building things as well. In high school and university, I was fortunate to be sponsored by Arc’teryx for climbing and took that opportunity to get into the studio. I job-shadowed over a couple summers, then decided to study industrial design, where I could combine my passion for making things and problem-solving. It didn’t really occur to me that I could add in my passion for climbing, too, until I took a soft-product design class at school. My first position was as a design assistant for Arc’teryx LEAF (Law Enforcement and Armed Forces), and I’ve since transitioned into designing equipment.
Kami, Osprey Packs: I had a friend who was an ultrarunner and invited me to attend Outdoor Retailer, an industry trade show. At the show, I had the opportunity to meet and network with a lot of brands in the industry and that helped me when I went home to start looking for jobs. If you can, try to attend any outdoor events, demo days and trade shows, and start networking. There are even some great Facebook groups for this type of interest that you can join and be active in. I built my role as a social media manager at my last job (marketing for an agency), and laterally made a transition when I came into the outdoor industry. Best decision I ever made, job-wise.
Lesley, Burton: My first role in the industry was working at a snowboard shop in college. It was a great opportunity to meet other outdoor enthusiasts, familiarize myself with the products and brands, and connect with local reps and network.
Brylee, Arc’teryx: I went to Kwantlen Polytechnic University (in British Columbia) and studied fashion design and technology. In my final year at school, I did an apparel collection for experienced female skiers. I started to wear, as well as promote, my collection skiing and was then put in touch with Arc’teryx. Luckily, the timing was right and a design assistant position had just opened up.
How do you find career opportunities in the outdoor industry? Do you have to move to the mountains to get an outdoor job?
Katie, Arc’teryx: Many of cmy co-workers and friends have actually done exactly that. One moved from New York to Vancouver, B.C., basically for the proximity of climbing in Squamish and the Rockies. It’s a common story at Arc’teryx, whether it’s the skiing, climbing or biking that draws you. As for job opportunities, it certainly helps to start getting face to face with people. Next vacation, plan some info meetings in advance with companies you’re interested in.
Camber Outdoors: Camber Outdoors hosts networking events called Camber Exchanges all over the country. If you have a chance to attend the Outdoor Retailer show, that would be a great opportunity to meet folks, too. Our Career Center is a also great place to look for outdoor industry jobs, explore resources and find female role models.
Kami, Osprey Packs: Outdoor Industry Jobs is another great resource for all types of outdoor industry jobs, not specific to women. Keep an eye on your favorite brands’ Instagram accounts, as we often announce networking or public events on there. LinkedIn is a great resource, as well as any outdoor events. I would also look at Facebook groups, as they are a great place to meet hiking/biking/climbing partners and network.
What advice would you give to outdoor enthusiasts who want to transition into a career in the outdoor industry?
Katie, Arc’teryx: Many…