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For some, it’s Job One

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Katie Medina, a river guide with Mountain Waters Rafting, prepares for a trip on the Animas River. Medina chose rafting because it gives her the opportunity to meet new people and work outside.

By Emily Griffin
Herald Staff Writer

While $7.78 is a mere buck to the professional, for those in high school and others returning home from college, a seasonal job is a way to save some cash and have extra funds for summertime fun.

Working throughout the summer provides students with valuable experience in the real world, teaches them time management and responsible work habits and lends to a more marketable employee with a full résumé, local employment experts say.

Sounds simple. But how do you get a job? That part’s not so easy. In a series of interviews, local employers and youths gave some tips they believe to be pertinent in snagging the most desirable positions.

The first step

Seeking help through school resources may be the best way to find a position, and students at Fort Lewis College have the Career Services Center for assistance.

The center works to connect FLC students with local Durango businesses through internships, said Patricia Dommer, a Career Services coordinator. FLC and the Durango Chamber of Commerce built a partnership in hopes that chamber members will work with the college and hire current FLC students or alums to create a connection between the city and the college.

“This summer there is a lot of hiring going on,” Dommer said. “There is a big pickup from last year, which I am really excited about.”

Dommer suggests college-aged students get as much experience throughout their education as they can, and she said that nobody can start getting experience too early.

“Retail is a great experience because you are not only handling money, you’re dealing with different people, you have to think on your feet and you are learning about merchandising and presentation and how to act professionally,” Dommer said.

Finding that first job

Often, first-time job-seekers have a hard time finding positions because one of the most important sections of the application is left blank: past experience. Though many employers may see this as an automatic “no,” experience isn’t a necessity everywhere.

Ian Junkermann, 19, has been a lifeguard at the Durango Community Recreation Center for three years and began working there during high school. Junkermann works 20 hours a week at the center, which has been his first and only job.

The Durango Parks and Recreation Department is likely to consider applicants who do not have experience on a résumé. This year, the department hired nearly 50 new employees, but still has a few positions open for the summer, said Kelli Jaycox, the recreation center manager.

The department typically hires part-time employees for most seasonal positions, with the average hire being 20 years old, she said.

There is a wide range of opportunities for job-seekers to work in an area of personal interest because the Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for a multitude of events, she said.

These include coaching, teaching skateboarding, leading Summer Gametime and lifeguarding.

Raft guiding a labor of love

Katie Medina, 20, finds herself working summers as a raft guide, a position that is accompanied with extensive training. The 2013 season marks her first year as a guide for Mountain Waters Rafting, which has a kiosk at 643 Camino del Rio.

Mountain Waters Rafting is eligible to hire anyone 18 and older and hosts two intense, 10-day guide schools, one in May and one in June, costing each guide-in-training $500 to $600.

“Raft guiding is a labor of love, not a money-making job,” Medina said. “I chose to be a raft guide because you get to meet new people and be outside.”

Mariah Dorsey, 17, is spending her second summer as a barista at Steaming Bean Coffee Co., 915 Main Avenue, working 20-25 hours per week.

This job found her last year when owner Ivan Unkovskoy was seeking extra help for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge’s arrival in Durango.

Unkovskoy sees a lot of résumés come through the doors once school is out, sometimes as many as 10 a day, he said.

Finding responsible hard workers is at the top of Unkovskoy’s list when reviewing and interviewing applicants.

For others Dorsey’s age, finding a job didn’t prove quite so simple.

Kourtney Aarvold, 17, printed numerous résumés and headed down Main Avenue in hopes of snagging a position for the summer. After two weeks, Aarvold began receiving calls back from numerous businesses, and she landed a job as a part-time hostess at Chimayo Stone Fired Kitchen, 862 Main Ave.

Aarvold learned that experience is key: If you don’t have any, a lot of places around town won’t even glance at your résumé, she said.

Most sources agreed on at least one thing: The key to finding a summer position is perseverance and persistence.

Emily Griffin, a summer intern at The Durango Herald, is a Fort Lewis College student. Email her at egriffin@durangoherald.com.

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