Aspen Untucked: Finding Love (For Your Job) In Aspen
In this week’s edition of the Aspen Times Weekly, I had the privilege of writing the feature on employment in the valley. For this story, I talked with many employers and current or potential employees about their hiring experiences in Aspen.
Through this research my own experience, I’ve learned that one thing is for certain: Working and living in Aspen is anything but easy. But we all want to make it work because we love this town and the outdoors that surround it so much. In most cases, none of us come to Aspen because we got hired for the dream job. We come here because we want to live the dream, and the job — while it may be important — takes second place to the lifestyle.
I decided to move to Aspen in the fall of 2012. My cousin had already lived here for seven or so years at that point, and he was eager to show me the ropes. I’d graduated from Emerson College with a print journalism degree, and was eager to work as a journalist/writer in the town, but knew those jobs were limited. Before I arrived, my cousin forwarded me an email from one of his friends. A marketing firm in Aspen was looking for an account coordinator. I sent over my resume and an interview was promptly setup. A few days after, I had the job. I couldn’t believe my luck. I remember calling my dad right after (he always instilled the importance of hard work in his kids) to tell him I’d landed my first professional job. It wasn’t an internship or some sort of one-off assignment, it was a real job.
From there, things just seemed to fall into place. I spent about a year and a half with the marketing firm and was then asked if I wanted to apply for an associate editor position at Aspen Magazine. I’d wanted to work for a magazine for as long as I could remember, so I was giddy for the opportunity. After nearly two years with the magazine, I was approached about a digital content manager position at Aspen Public Radio, the town’s NPR member station. I was hesitant to move to radio, a medium I knew very little about. But, after giving it some thought, I made the move. I’m still there today and am constantly in awe of the team, who puts out thoughtful, balanced coverage about important things happening in our world.
From my first job in Aspen all the way through to my current one, I’ve been so fortunate to have amazing bosses — people who have taught me about the industry and had faith in my ability, even when I sometimes didn’t. They also are the type of people that I can have fun with, whether that be a few powder runs before heading to the office or a nice cocktail after work. That’s one of the beautiful things about living in Aspen: we’re all here for similar reasons, so it’s easy to find common ground.
Through my work tenure in this town, I’ve been very fortunate. I had a wonderful housing deal for a couple of years, living in my cousin and his wife’s basement apartment. And, I’ve had constant full-time work, as well as the opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community. Not all of my friends have had the same experience, and sadly many moved away to find better work opportunities elsewhere.
One of the people I talked to for my employment story was Jill Rubin. She moved to Aspen in July, dead set on some kind of job in media — specifically radio, if possible. She had worked as a TV producer in Los Angeles for 26 years, and may have seemed overqualified to many employers for a media position in the valley. But her heart was set on Aspen. After nearly four months of tireless searching and applying, she landed a job as an account executive for the radio station KSPN. Rubin was over the moon when I talked with her, having signed the contract the day before. She knew that all of the stars had aligned in just the way she wanted. Even though she has much more work experience than me, I couldn’t help but think as I talked with her about how I felt the day I landed my first job in Aspen. It’s a feeling of relief, pride and acceptance. That, in a special place like Aspen, there’s room for you to make your dreams come true.
I’ve found that, once the community makes a bit of room, it’s easier to settle in. Spend a couple of years here, investing in this wonderful place, and it will accept you with open arms. No, it’s not always easy, but (as I said in my feature) it’s entirely worth it.
Barbara Platts hopes everyone struggling to find work in Aspen doesn’t give up. It will come. Reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.