How to find (or not find) a real job in the Summit
Trying to find a real job in Summit County, I realized, is like trying to find a parking space in Breckenridge on a holiday weekend. If you’re lucky enough to even spot one, you’d be a fool to drive by it in hopes of something better.
That’s what I found out this last year, especially this summer, as I searched in desperation for a job that did not involve saying the words, “How would you like your burger cooked?” or “How can I help you?”
I didn’t help my situation by prematurely quitting my restaurant job mid-August (I just couldn’t marry another ketchup bottle!) because I foolishly thought if nothing permanent panned out, I could always substitute teach when school started.
I did not realize school started a week later than I originally thought, and that there’s not much substitute work until around Thanksgiving.
It was a double whammy when I walked into the substitute orientation and saw about 50 people there, a lot of them with master’s degrees and full teaching credentials (I just had a provisional sub license) who couldn’t find real jobs here either.
A lot you Summit Countians know exactly what I’m talking about – a lot of you who just care about riding or skiing all the time don’t.
But chances are, there will come a time when you are tired of not being able to eat sushi whenever you want to and your tooth will become rotten and very painful to use. So, if you happen to get the money to eat sushi you can’t, or you will get seriously injured doing the sports you love and end up owing some hospital a lot of money.
The latter happened to me in the summer of 2002 as I was trying to learn how to skate bowls. I should have at least known not to try that in a city where the world’s most expensive emergency room is: Aspen.
As I was lying on the bottom of the bowl in the skatepark, unable to move my leg, a little 12-year-old girl was staring down at me saying, “That’s why you have to lean forward.”
Then I realized that skating is either for little kids who bend like Gumby or well-insured people, and I was neither, anymore.
Thus began my quest for a real job. I still loved snowboarding, but I also loved other things like traveling and fine dining. However, I also loved the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to after living in the mountains for six years. This is where it gets tricky.
So over the last year I applied for jobs I actually enjoyed and could put on a resume, and learned that those jobs make up about 1 percent of work in the county.
I applied at Summit High School last fall as a special education paraprofessional and lost it to someone with more experience. I applied twice at the local paper (yes, the one you’re holding), each time for a sports-reporter position, and despite having a journalism degree and published writing samples, was denied both times.
The point being – even if there is a parking space, chances are someone with a slightly faster car will get it – your opportunity will only come until all the elements fall into place and you slide in there.
But you have to try for every available space: Persistence and hope, on top of a college degree and experience, are mandatory for landing a real job in Summit County.
So I applied again this fall at Summit High for the same position I tried for last year, and just when my situation had gotten desperate enough that the City Market check-out lady had to lend me 11 cents to cover the total for my grocery bill, the school decided to give me a chance. Yahoo!
Now I get to go to the dentist for the first time in seven years. Now I can go to sushi whenever I want to. Now I can plan traveling to places I’ve never been before. And I still get to look at the awesome scenery around here and play in it at least two days a week (I will still get in more days than the Front Range people, I guarantee you – and of higher quality because I know all the secret spots).
So to all you people out there who are wanting to use your smarts, creative talents and university-trained skills in a job again, but don’t want to have to move back to whichever smog-filled city you came from, don’t give up hope yet.
Persistence will pay off, and you just may land the spot in front of the sushi bar.
Christine Rasmussen writes from her home in Frisco. She also is starting to write for us as a correspondent.
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