Starting down the right path |

Starting down the right path

Eighth-graders learn more about careers at Boys2Men conference

Tanner Anderson listens to a presentation by Mike DeGroff about ski mountain operations during the Boys2Men Conference held at Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday. The Boys2Men conference gave Steamboat eighth-graders an opportunity to learn about various career paths and occupations.
Brian Ray

— Jerry Buelter wanted to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers when he was in eighth grade.

Instead, he became assistant principal at the Steamboat Springs Middle School, so his message during Tuesday’s opening comments of the Boys2Men Conference was junior high might be too early to finalize career plans, but it isn’t too early to start thinking about life after high school.

“You might find something of interest that you have considered or something that you did not consider,” Buelter said to Steamboat eighth-graders. “Just find out what you can.”

On Tuesday, while eighth-grade girls from throughout the county were participating in the Girls2Women Conference, the Steamboat eighth-grade boys were at Colorado Mountain College rotating through a series of male presenters who have made their mark in Steamboat in very different ways.

“The police said you should make good choices,” eighth-grader Chris Grimes said during a break. “They said if you have anything on your record it hurts your chances for jobs.”

The boys learned practical life lessons such as the ones shared by the Steamboat Springs Police Department, but the boys also learned specific career goals for certain professions.

Matt Piva, executive chef at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel, showed several groups of boys that not knowing what you want to be is one way to fall into the right professions.

While attending Duke University, Piva got involved in the restaurant business as a busboy and then as a waiter. Asking questions about menu items sparked an interest in learning more about culinary arts.

Now, an experienced chef in Steamboat, Piva gave a 35-minute presentation focused on how he became a chef and why he finds it so rewarding.

“I had to start somewhere,” he told the eighth-graders. “That’s one of the cool things about cooking. It doesn’t matter where I want to live. People are always going to be hungry. I’m a tradesman. A trade also gives you the opportunity to fall back on it.”

Although many of Tuesday’s presenters went to higher education to become engineers, lawyers or writers, Piva learned through an apprenticeship, showing there are alternate ways to find a career.

“You are in school to learn skill sets regardless of the profession you choose,” said Piva, adding he uses chemistry, biology, math and language daily. “There isn’t a right way to the path you want to take.”

Eighth-grader Justin Anderson said it was beneficial to learn life lessons from professionals instead of always hearing it in the classroom. Until Tuesday, Justin did not know what a trade profession was.

“People are talking to me that actually work where they are talking about,” Justin said.

Rewarding questions and comments with baked goods Tuesday, Piva said he finds it rewarding to share his passion for food with potential chefs. The eighth-grade boys in his sessions were filled with questions.

“Instead of Fruit Loops and Pop Tarts I made French toast and waffles,” Piva said of his college breakfasts, but he said he also found an added benefit to knowing his way around the kitchen growing up. “If you can make a good pasta dish, you’ll get all the girls.”

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