Mountains Work Week shows young professionals the perks of working at Lake Tahoe | nnbw.com

Mountains Work Week shows young professionals the perks of working at Lake Tahoe

Claire Cudahy
ccudahy@tahoedailytribune.com

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — In May, 21 young professionals from the Bay Area and Washington, D.C., lived and worked on Lake Tahoe's South Shore as part of the inaugural Mountains Work Week, a program created by two local marketing experts with a goal of attracting new talent to the area.

"It was absolutely amazing," said Mountains Work Week cofounder and PR maven Lara Miller. "When Aaron [Darke] and I started it, we didn't know if anyone would come. We ended up with a diverse group of incredibly talented, incredibly smart people."

The sponsored week brought professionals from a variety of industries — who all had the ability to work remotely — to the South Shore for a mix of work and play, including mountain biking, hiking, boating and standup paddling.

"Most everyone was working at the Coachman Hotel every day, mixed in with breaks for our activities," explained Miller.

The week was filled with other events like a welcome speech from South Lake Tahoe Mayor Austin Sass and a talk from climber, BASE jumper and entrepreneur Chris McNamara. Tahoe Prosperity Center CEO Heidi Hill Drum wrapped up the trip with an informational session on housing.

The idea, said Darke, is to attract businesses that can pay a more competitive wage and individuals with higher-paying jobs to live and spend money in the community. In short, it's about diversifying Lake Tahoe's tourism-dependent economy.

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For many of the Mountains Work Week participants, the most surprising part of their experience was the community of people that makes up Lake Tahoe.

"Getting to see the diversity of careers that people are involved in here was a big surprise to me. Not everyone is just working in the outdoors industry," said Michael Madoff, a San Francisco-based product manager for Young Invincibles, a nonprofit that focuses on expanding economic opportunities for young Americans.

David Chang, an engineer for the U.S. Digital Service — and one of the people who was called in to fix healthcare.gov several years ago — said the week allowed him to actually experience what life would be like here in Lake Tahoe.

"I can see myself doing this in a couple of years," said Chang, who describes himself as an avid climber and hiker. "The community has been absolutely phenomenal. I knew about Tahoe — it's obviously one of the best places to go for recreation and skiing — but I hadn't really thought of it as a place to live before."

Andrew Zaydak, an engineer from Sunnyvale, California, said he was impressed by the support he saw between the community and small businesses.

"That surprised me. It was also just a good opportunity to see the town not as a tourist," said Zaydak.

On Wednesday, May 24, Tahoe Regional Young Professionals (TRYP) hosted a "Meet the Locals" event at South Lake Brewing Company.

"It was amazing to see local young professionals come to this event and welcome the Mountains Work Week participants into our community and show them that Tahoe is more than just a pretty place to live," said Devin Middlebrook, TRYP executive director. "It's a place where you can have a successful career and build lifelong relationships."

After a positive week, plans for another Mountains Work Week are already underway.

"We're going to do another one in October and are looking at expanding to other mountain and beach communities," said Miller.

For more information on Mountains Work Week, visit http://www.mountainswork.com.

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