Career expo in Glenwood aimed at helping high school students connect with employers
“I want the students to be hopeful about their future and the role they want to play,” says Jayne Poss, who is organizing the massive GlenX Career Expo for high school students next week.
On March 5, nearly 2,000 students from Glenwood Springs to Aspen are expected to visit with 157 local employers in the two gymnasiums at Glenwood Springs High School.
Poss hopes students can discover careers they had not thought of before, and more importantly, meet professionals who can be resources in years to come.
Finding jobs through social and professional networks is something Susana Salamun, Latino services operator for Alpine Bank and a career presenter for the expo, knows well.
She has a degree in engineering, but became a teacher to travel in the summers, which led her to move from Mexico to the U.S., meet her husband, and settle in the Roaring Fork Valley.
“Living in a small town didn’t give many opportunities to take advantage of my engineering degree, given the fact that many technology companies are mostly located in bigger towns,” Salamun said.
“So, I decide to say ‘yes’ to job opportunities that came up with my neighbors.” One of those jobs was with Alpine Bank, which related to her interests in mathematics and technology, and opened up the opportunity for her current job as Latino services operator, a position that had been unfilled for about eight years before she assumed the role last August.
Salamun is one of nine professionals scheduled to share the story of their career path with students. The other speakers are 9th Judicial District Court Judge Anne Norrdin, Valley View Hospital emergency room physician Ben Peery, FBI agent Todd Sandstedt, Pat Conarro of the Product Launch Company, Sydney Schalit of FootSteps Marketing, and Samuel Bernal of Spanish radio station La Tricolor.
Keynote speaker Eric Alexander, mountaineer, expedition guide, speaker and author of “The Summit: Faith Beyond Everest’s Death Zone,” said his passion is to “speak to the hearts of young people, to get them to pursue their passions.”
That mission comes with a clarification. It’s a mistake, he said, to think about happiness as “being happy all the time in what I’m doing.”
“I think it has to go beyond that, to looking at what you do as having purpose, and making an impact in this world, versus seeking your own continual happiness,” he said.
His career is a path that wasn’t clear when he started college at Denver University studying environmental science with an emphasis on urban planning. There were blips along the way that led him to become an inspirational speaker and adventure guide.
“When you are following the thing that you love, the opportunities will present themselves, he said. “You need to chart your course and have a plan, but have flexibility to absorb the bumps along the way.”
The 1,800 students will be divided into groups by school for the career talk from two presenters and Alexander’s keynote, and have ample time to meet employers.
Alexander hopes students will take advantage of meeting people who make up “the backbone of the community, the entrepreneurs and the various organizations of the keep things ticking.”
It could open their eyes to careers available within the community that they had not seen before.
The employers at the expo will range from nonprofits to law firms to law enforcement agencies to construction companies.
Each participating organization will offer one or more opportunities, which could include apprenticeships, internships, career shadowing, summer employment or assistance on capstone projects.
Many organizations offered themselves as capstone experts last year, and Poss said the capstone project coordinators saw many student projects inspired by conversations at the 2018 career expo.
“I just want them to keep their eyes wide open to explore, and discover different careers. And, that there’s so many opportunities waiting for them,” Poss said.