Park City has its own de Tocqueville
November 6, 2009
Diego Perez from Uruguay spent three winters in Park City starting in 2006 as an international worker bussing tables at Westgate Resort. He also moonlighted as a cashier at Staples and a disc jockey at Harry O’s. As part of his final project to graduate from Catholic University of Montevideo with a marketing degree, he interviewed several people in Park City about intercultural marketing.
"The reason I am doing this is to learn the consumer habits, communication channels, and other aspects in relation to employers and their practice of marketing to international students coming to the United States for seasonal employment," Perez explained in an email.
In addition to interviewing people in the human resource departments of respective resorts, he interviewed several fellow workers. He met them at Harry O’s and by volunteering every Tuesday night at the Christian Center of Park City dinners.
He asked about their experiences coming and leaving and working in town.
"Some relevant data that I collected with this opinion poll is that most of the exchange students are from the middle-upper class in their country, they all studied at different universities and that they spend between $,2000 and $3,000 for living this experience," he said.
That’s right; he found that international workers do not come to earn money. They come to live in Park City for a winter. In his estimation, the average flight costs between $1,100 and $1,500. Visas cost between $600 and $900 and rent cost between $300 and $500 for a total of around $3,250 per person.
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He estimated the average worker is paid $9 and hour for 37 hours a week for 12 weeks for a total of $3,996.
Factor in the cost of food, clothing, sundry necessities and any additional travel, and working for a Park City resort becomes quite unprofitable.
He said two of the most frequently used Web sites for searching for winter work are http://www.weusa.com.ar and http://www.workuse.com. The latter has an ad that flashes the logos for Park City Mountain Resort and Westgate Resorts.
He said the marketing to international students portrays it like a study abroad.
"They sell a life experience, not an opportunity to make money," he said.
For an example of that, see the Romanian site: http://www.americanexperience.ro/en/work-and-travel/statistici/ .
Perez said students seek the experience because they want to learn more about the United States, study other cultures, make friends, practice winter sports, and earn work experience for their Curriculum Vitae.
Tim Dahlin, executive director of the Park City Christian Center, said Perez’s work was focused on integrating cultures.
"He wants the people in Park City to get to know the people from South America and other places," he said.
A lot of his work while he was in town focused on educating people about expectations. Sometimes students come with certain assumptions that are different from Park City’s cultural norms.
"He worked to tell the Park City hosts and hostesses: ‘This is what the kids are looking for.’ I saw this in his personal communications with them," he said. "I thought it was helpful and he has been a very good liaison," Dahlin added.