Five Myths About Breaking into the Active-Outdoor Industries as a Women

Kayak girl
This article was originally published by Outdoor Project. View the original here. 

So many of us love to be outdoors. We spend vacations, weekends, and summer afternoons exploring trails, paddling rivers, and climbing mountains. But when it comes to the daily grind, we trade our hiking boots and river shoes for flats (or heels) and head to job that doesn’t necessarily fuel our inner fire.

At Camber Outdoors, we’re helping women who love the outdoors turn their passion for being outside into their profession. And we’re starting by busting some myths about breaking into the active-outdoor industries (which include companies in the bike, run, and snow industries, too).

#1. You have to be really, really good at climbing, skiing, mountain biking, or [your favorite activity here] in order to work for one of these companies.
Not true. The active-outdoor industries are all about passion. Whether they’re flashing routes, dropping big-mountain lines, and racing every weekend or bouldering, cruising groomers, and rolling the bike path with family and friends, the women and men who work in these industries are passionate about getting after it outside—and that passion shines through in their day jobs. As long as you’ve got passion, you’ve got what it takes.

#2. You have to know someone on the inside.
Sure, it helps. Like landing a job anywhere, it’s always great to have a friend on the inside. But it’s not a dealbreaker if you don’t have LinkedIn connections at the company or a BFF in the industry. The skills, talent, and (of course) passion you bring will set you up for success on job applications and in interviews. And you’ll make industry friends once you land a job, guaranteed.

#3. You have to start in retail.
The industry loves stories about CEOs who got their start on the sales floor at a mountaineering store or wrenching at a bike shop. Those stories are true fact. But the times, they’re a-changin’. More and more people are making lateral shifts from other industries to grab jobs in marketing, product design, sales, and finance at outdoor-industry companies. Another true fact: the industries are actively looking for talented, qualified women to hire. Outdoor companies cite a lack of women applicants as the biggest reason there aren’t many women in their workforces—especially in leadership positions. So apply. Apply now! We’re waiting for you!!

#4. Skills from outside the industry aren’t transferable.
Not at all true (see #3 above). You might need to get creative about how you position your skills—especially if what you’re doing now isn’t what you want to be doing once you land a job on the inside—but hard skills, an exceptional work ethic, and true passion for the outdoors (remember #1?) will take you far.

#5. It’s all fun all the time.
Not quite true. It is fun most of the time. And it’s a lot of work, too. Companies in the active-outdoor industries are fast-paced, high-intensity places, with long hours and often crazy schedules, especially around sales events and tradeshows. But the dedication, camaraderie, and (you guessed it) passion in these industries definitely lead to fun—and make landing a job here an excellent career (and life) move.   

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Camber Outdoors is a national nonprofit that elevates and accelerates women’s leadership and participation in outdoors—from backcountry to boardroom. For more information on breaking into the active-outdoor industries and to search jobs, visit their Career Center.

Formerly the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC)

©2018 CAMBER OUTDOORS

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