At the risk of being a downer, keep in mind that your dream isn't as easy to pull off as it was when most Epic members were contemplating it. And that this is a very biased sample; folks who love skiing, and a weird % who have pulled off their dream and are directly connected to the industry. But what % tried for that dream, failed, and now post on Epic? Anyway, the 10K you have saved up is going to last maybe 6 months in a ski town, even with roomies, unless you have extensive experience living below the poverty line. Which doesn't equate with skiing, anyway. And you won't be the only person who's got your life model. Every third skier on the mountain from the flatlands has/had the same fantasy. Only nowadays at places like Vail, the lifts are all being run, and the coffee all being poured by, nice college students from south of the equator somewhere. The bars and restaurants are everybody's first port of call; how would you fell about a job that required you to work five days a week, regardless of the skiing, either in a restaurant or say roads, or construction? Any contingency plans about health care in case you break something? Any backup for when you actually do run out of $ and don't have that high paying ski shop job yet? Not saying you might not get it, just saying that you need to consider alternatives that will pay for heat and food and rent.
My alternative: Get a real job, something with math/accounting in it, in a place like SLC or Denver. Get a season pass. Use the hell out of it. Shop around for some version of your skill set up near the mountain, maybe even at a different mountain. Do a reality check if you really truly still want to do what you think you want to do now. If no, then you're still out west near real mountains, and if yes, then onward to a ski resort. But some realism now will pay off later.
Can't speak to Vail except to agree that it's a nice mountain, reliable snow, kinda creepy culture IMO. If I were wanting to go live cheap near a good mountain, I'd think Jackson or somewhere in Montana, or yeah, Mammoth. Go work in Bishop. Or maybe a smaller place that caters to locals rather than a destination resort where coffee costs $4.
I think this is well stated, and while there are still viable jobs to ski everyday and live above the poverty line in many ski areas, like ski teaching, it's not as easy as it once was.
I'm with the last couple posters here on the idea of looking at places like Reno, SLC, where you are 30min from skiing, but there are jobs and reasonable cost of living.
also, working in finance in a small town, like Truckee, or even Reno, will most likely have a very different feel to it then in New Jersey. I believe it's more about the people and the culture then the job.
I was ski/tennis bum for many years, and now sell real estate in Lake Tahoe, and I know I could never do this job in a city... but in the mountains, it's different...
Good luck, and, I'd look at mountains w/ more steeps, and less uppity attitude if I were you as well. Vail is huge, but pretty flat imo, and when you ski 100 days a year, you want variety, tight spots, steeps and plenty of locals who you'd like to ski with.