Aspen Youth Center aims to inspire with 19th annual career fair |

Aspen Youth Center aims to inspire with 19th annual career fair

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
About 70 eighth-grade students from Aspen Middle School and Aspen Community School gathered in Snowmass Thursday for the 19th annual Girls to Women, Women to Girls career fair, where roughly 20 local women answered questions about their professions.
Erica Robbie/The Aspen Times |

In most cases, asking strangers personal questions about their careers — such as how much money they make — in a social setting before a group of people would be frowned upon.

But for about 70 eighth-grade girls who met with several local professionals Thursday, no job-related question was off the table.

In fact, the students were encouraged to ask questions as part the Aspen Youth Center’s 19th annual Girls to Women, Women to Girls career fair Thursday in Snowmass Village.

In collaboration with local women across a variety of traditional and nontraditional professions, the event aims to inspire eighth-grade girls to explore their future career possibilities, said Sue Smedstad, Aspen Youth Center board member and event coordinator.

More than 30 women volunteered and spoke to students at the fair, where students had the opportunity to sit down with them and learn about their careers in a small, roundtable discussion.

The eighth-graders from Aspen Middle School and Aspen Community School were exposed to more than 20 careers from the fields of engineering, industrial technology, finance, arts, marketing, human services and more.

Local Marilyn Ortmann, who’s volunteered as a professional at the fair for 13 years, said she thinks the fair is a great opportunity for girls to see how successful women landed their careers, which steps they took and how much education was required — a question that proved to be on the minds of many students at the fair.

When asked what she enjoyed most about the fair, Aspen Middle School student Ella Trane said it was good to know how much schooling was needed for each profession.

“It kind of changed my idea of what I want to be. … I don’t want to go through too much schooling,” Trane said, noting that four to eight years of school would be fine but 10 would be too much.

Though Thursday’s fair may not have necessarily catered to Allie Forester’s desire to become an actress or an agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Aspen Middle School student said it was still cool to learn what people do and how they become who they are.

While manning the career fair’s table about the public relations profession, Sara Stookey asked a few eighth-grade girls if they’d ever heard the expression, “Have your people call my people.”

“Well, we’re the people,” Stookey said, pointing to herself and her fellow employee at Wagstaff Worldwide, a hospitality marketing firm that has an office in Aspen.

Stookey said that she thinks the career fair is an incredible opportunity for young, local girls to learn from professionals at such an impressionable age.