Routt County Cooperative Extension Office extension agent Karen Massey speaks to Steamboat Springs High School juniors during the Skills for Success 2008 Symposium on Thursday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. A variety of topics ranging from table manners to credit cards were addressed at the symposium.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Routt County Cooperative Extension Office extension agent Karen Massey speaks to Steamboat Springs High School juniors during the Skills for Success 2008 Symposium on Thursday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. A variety of topics ranging from table manners to credit cards were addressed at the symposium.

Learning about life

High school juniors acquire new skills at symposium

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— Jacquelyn Mitchell had many time-honored lessons Thursday for local high school students learning about job interviews.

Dress well. Show up on time. Research the company beforehand.

But Mitchell also had advice that suited a new generation of employees.

"Don't bring your cell phones - no texting at work," she said. "You're there to do your job."

Mitchell, an employment specialist at the Colorado Workforce Center, was one of many speakers at the 2008 Skills for Success Symposium held at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. The all-day event was a collaborative effort between local high schools, the Routt County Cooperative Extension Office, New Frontiers and numerous volunteers. More than 180 11th-graders from Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Soroco high schools attended the event.

"We're really trying to get the 11th-graders to start thinking about what comes next," said Karen Massey of the Extension Office. She said several speakers Thursday gave basic personal finance lessons, partly because 18- to 24-year-old consumers are a rapidly growing demographic for bankruptcy.

Steamboat Springs High School junior Nelson Brassell said lessons about saving money and building credit resonated with him, a sentiment echoed by Steamboat junior Jenn Petersen.

"I think it's so valuable that the community steps in to help," Petersen said of the symposium.

Massey said the event provided a great way for juniors to learn life skills on an unusual day at the high school - Steamboat freshmen and sophomores completed Colorado Student Assessment Program tests Thursday while seniors were involved in activities related to graduation.

Massey acknowledged that some juniors likely missed lessons about their future because of a preference for the present - specifically, the present outside the Sheraton's windows at Steamboat Ski Area.

"We understand that we lost a few students to the powder conditions," Massey said.

Local business leaders and community members Thursday spoke about topics including entrepreneurship, independent living, time management, goal-setting and career exploration.

Many local students already are in the workforce. During Mitchell's presentation, several juniors raised their hands to indicate they already have jobs, either in the summer or full time. Mitchell painted a clear picture of how job interviews will get tougher as students - and future employees - reach for higher goals.

"You're about to enter the scariest room in the world," Mitchell said of an interview site. "It has your future in it."

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