Roaring Fork Valley students make connections at GlenX Career Expo (photo gallery)
Mountaineer and adventure guide Eric Anderson shows a video of a blind man crossing a crevasse on a shaking aluminum ladder during an ascent of Mt. Everest to high school students at the GlenX Career Expo Tuesday.
“Setting off on your next phase of life doesn’t have to be as scary as that,” Anderson said.
Even when the future is uncertain, it’s important to have a plan and be flexible that career paths can change, Anderson said.
“When you persevere, when you bring passion to what you do, when you bring that element of service and character, you can reach the top of the world,” Anderson said.
After hearing Anderson’s keynote message and from two other professionals who told their career stories, students from high schools between Aspen and Glenwood Springs went exploring.
They visited the two auditoriums at Glenwood Springs High School, where more than 150 local businesses and organizations set up booths to meet with students.
“So many businesses are here. It’s amazing. It’s like the whole community came,” GSHS sophomore Robbie Weir said.
The organizations run the gamut. Representatives from local governments and federal agencies, law enforcement and military services, hotels and restaurants, construction and architecture firms, service organizations, nonprofit organizations, hospitals, colleges, marketing firms and banks filled the school.
GSHS sophomore Brady Porter came away with a sense that there were many options for both summer jobs and future careers.
“There are opportunities, even if you don’t go to college, like woodworking, sheet metal, sheriff’s office,” Porter said. Many of them offer training and guarantee a job later on, he noted.
choosing a path
The GlenX Career Expo, founded by Altai Chuluun and run by Jayne Poss, aims to give students hope for their futures and practical connections with local employers, whether the students have a career path in mind or not.
“I’m interested in counseling and the medical field, and I learned there are a lot more hospitals in the area that offer what I’m looking for,” said Nadia Shea, a GSHS sophomore. “They gave me emails, and phone numbers of people I can contact.”
First-time exhibitor Pat Canarro of technology design and build firm The Product Launch Co. was impressed with the students who came to speak with him.
“We’ve seen students who really get it. Some of them are looking for the next 3D design tool that will take their ideas to reality,” Canarro said.
The Product Launch Co. is looking for interns for the summer.
“We’re giving all the interns a budget, and they have to create a product of their own, and market it on our e-commerce website,” Canarro said.
One student interested in that internship is Roaring Fork High School junior Isabella Hernandez. She is looking into architecture and interior design, but was excited by The Product Launch Co.’s 3D technology.
Her favorite moment of the speakers was when Samuel Bernal of Radio La Tricolor told students to aim high when first setting out.
“If you have a goal, start at the top, don’t settle for any less at first,” Hernandez remembered from the speech.
Bernal described how, once he decided he wanted to be in radio, he set out to visit every radio station in his home town of Mexico City to ask for a job doing anything. He got a job working for free but was hired full time within a month.
One theme of the speakers was that career paths sometimes take circuitous routes. FBI agent Todd Sandstedt explained that he wanted to be a garbage man when he was 5, eventually became a basketball coach at Appalachian State University, and then embarked on his 25-year career as an FBI agent.
“I kind of already know what I want to do, but finding those steps can be kind of hard,” RFHS junior Hayden Holbrook said.
Talking with U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife representatives “helped inform me what one I want to do this summer, and maybe for a career,” he said.
Burt Garcia and Sam Meeks, project engineers for FCI Constructors, see involvement in the expo as a way to give back to the community.
“I know when I was in high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so hopefully we can help give some direction,” Garcia said.
While construction and building design may not be a first choice for high school students, Meeks makes the pitch that it can be very rewarding to work outside, collaborate with others, and feel the sense of accomplishment.
“I would say it’s pretty cool when you drive by and tell your friends or your family, ‘I was there when we built that hospital, that school,’” Meeks said.
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The Glenwood Springs City Council will consider approving the discounted rate for students Thursday night.