Teens learn to earn

Young people offer advice on finding summer jobs in Durango

The real world is full of unlimited opportunities and choices. We are exposed to good and bad, and we need to choose our own path, including how to find that first summer job.

Mountain Middle School is a new project-based learning school that focuses on outside connections and applications. The eighth-graders at Mountain Middle School do a final project called Inspirational Internships. This project helps us choose our direction and follow our dreams as we apply skills we have learned in project-based learning to real-world internships. Four of the students at MMS – Bryce Gordon, Katie Austin, Kaylie Evans, and Corinne Truax – chose to take their May internships at The Durango Herald to pursue their interest in journalism. Together, they created this article about possible summer jobs for teenagers. They interviewed students at Mountain Middle School and Animas High School who have already had summer jobs, as well as some business owners/managers with possible job opportunities.

Will Berger adds ‘lively spirit’

Will Berger, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Mountain Middle School, has already held a summer job. Currently he works at Four Corners River Sports as a shop boy, cleaning and fixing boats and gear. The retail store sells rafting boats and gear and offers kayaking lessons.

“This job is super fun and never boring, plus I get pro deals,” said Berger. “It’s the best thing in the world, because you get paid for doing stuff you love to do.”

His least favorite part of the job is taking out the trash. He waits until the end of the day to do it, because it makes him “smell so bad it scares the customers away.” The most challenging part of his job is customer service. He got the job because he knows the boss, but he still had to apply with a cover letter and résumé. When asked if he had any feedback for his boss, he responded, “accept more kids at your work, it brings up the lively spirit.”

According to Berger, all you need to do to keep your job is work hard and do what your boss tells you to do.

Tim Wheeler values character, teamwork

At Durango Coffee Company, “age is less of a determinate than character” in the hiring process, said owner Tim Wheeler. He said he doesn’t usually hire teens because long work hours are required; but if someone has good character and works well in a team, there is a better chance they will get a job. A teen with a job at DCC could assist in retail sales and help unpack and repack items. If they have confidence, they might work on the sales floor. A teenager would not handle drinks or pastries, but they might end up washing dishes or doing other side work.

“The key thing for us is a friendly, outgoing attitude, and a background in team activities,” said Wheeler. “Everybody needs to work together here. It takes a team to run the place.”

Ashley Gonnella says passion has purpose

Pine Needle Mountaineering is a well known and trusted gear shop in the Main Mall on Main Avenue. The atmosphere is friendly and warm; there are many people ready to help you. Ashley Gonnella, the Womens Apparel/Casual Shoe Buyer for Pine Needle, shed light on the teenage retail world while tagging and hanging products.

Gonnella said she has had great experiences working with teens. Her only concern was their commitment and experience. It’s important to be familiar with the gear in the store, she said. “We need people who are passionate about the outdoors.”

Teens who work at Pine Needle can do small jobs around the store. They can also work the floor, which means helping customers make choices and answering questions.

Gonnella says teens in search of jobs should have a professional-looking résumé.

“The outdoor industry is hard to get into, but if you’re passionate about the gear you sell, it’s easy to get good at it. That is true for any job.”

Cooper Stowers welcomes visitors at Bar-D

Cooper Stowers’ work ethic comes from a quote by Warren Buffet: “There are five keys to getting a job and maintaining a job: Show up, try your hardest, expect a different result than what you planned for, be on time, and give it your all.”

Stowers, a junior at Animas High School, worked at the Bar D Chuckwagon, a supper show business on County Road 250. He said they hire teenagers to work over the summer to give them experience for when they graduate high school. Stowers had to fill out an application, and write a cover letter. A résumé was not required, because most teenagers don’t have any job experience. He said the most interesting part of his job was talking with tourists, and explaining about the Bar D Chuckwagon and the town of Durango. He also enjoyed being behind the scenes of the stage show. Stowers said he had good hours; mornings from 8 to 10 a.m., and nights from 6 to 11 p.m. This left his afternoons free for summer fun. Stowers also enjoyed the comfortable, fun working atmossphere.

Stowers said working is a good thing for the summer, because it gives him something to do when he is not with friends. It also gives him an advantage over his friends, because he has more money to spend on things he needs or wants.

Eli Kopp-DeVol juggles two jobs

Eli Kopp-DeVol, a sophomore at Animas High School, has worked at The Palace Restaurant and printed T-shirts for his family’s business, Advertising Innovations. Getting a job at his family’s business was easy, he said, but to get his job at the Palace, he had to fill out an application, get recommendations and do an interview with the manager. He also had to make many follow-up calls, which he said was very important to getting the job.

Kopp-DeVol chose the Palace job because he wanted a fast-paced environment and interaction with people.

“There are so many opportunities for jobs in Durango,” he said. “You just need to know what you’re looking for.”

Kopp-DeVol says he enjoys working, but it’s difficult to work during the summer, because it’s hard to make social plans. He says it’s worth it because he has spending money.

His advice for teenagers looking for a job is to avoid procrastinating.

“Don’t wait until the summer to begin searching. Definitely make sure you follow up, show up on time, listen to your boss, and work as hard as you can.”

He also says that making a mistake is not the end of the world. He said he has misprinted many T-shirts, and he once spilled water on a customer.

“It was not so bad. Everyone makes mistakes,” he said.

Now, instead of dwelling on his mistakes, he can say his accomplishments including printing all of the Animas High School paraphernalia.

Sara Martin says it’s important to have fun

Sara Martin’s recent summer job was at The Palace Restaurant, where she worked as a hostess and busser. Martin’s mother worked at the Palace for many years, and her parents wanted her to pursue a job there for a while. To get hired, Martin first wrote her résumé, and then filled out an application. Next, she spoke to the employees at the restaurant and discussed basic duties.

She usually worked from 3:30 to 9 or 10 p.m. While she enjoyed meeting tourists during the summer and the beautiful outdoor weather, Martin said she didn’t like the late hours. The job interested her because she made good money working part-time, and the tasks were fairly simple.

“Timing is a big part of how to get a summer job,” said Martin. “You need to show interest. Also, when getting applications and turning them in, don’t go into the facility during busy times.”

Martin said it’s important to show employers that you can be part of a team and have passion for your job. “But the most important thing is to have fun with it!”

Anisa Pearson carries the family torch

Trinkets and Treasures, a gift shop on Main Avenue in downtown Durango, hired Anisa Person to carry the family torch and work at the family-owned business for a summer job. To become an employee, Anisa, a sophomore at Animas High School, completed an application and filled out paperwork.

Anisa says that she enjoyed staying busy, because many summer tourists visit the shop; but she said memorizing codes and where items are located was a nuisance. The job interested Anisa because she wanted to earn money, and she said it was “cool to work at my parents’ store.”

At Trinkets and Treasures, Anisa worked three days a week with 10- to 12-hour shifts. She says that having a summer job is a great way to spend the summer.

“You have money to spend, and you can do more stuff when you have money. Definitely chose a job that interests you, so you will enjoy doing your work.”

In May, Herald Magazine Editor Karla Sluis mentored the four teenage writers, Bryce Gordon, Katie Austin, Kaylie Evans and Corinne Truax, who were participating in Mountain Middle School’s Inspirational Interships program. They chose a story topic, worked as a team and learned basics of interviewing, news writing, editing and page design to produce this piece.