Succeeding at Pickens Technical College: A Few Tricks of the Trade

You did it. You made the choice to gain the workforce-ready skills that will make you an asset to employers in the medical, information technology, energy, or the many other sectors growing in the Denver metro area and the state. Enrolling in a school with programs that prepare students for what your parents have been calling “the Real World” your whole life is the first and most critical step in creating a fulfilling career for yourself in the future. Finally, after all of the nagging and pressure to gain an opportunity to get a “Real Job” has ceased, the pressure to make the most of your time and money at Pickens Technical College begins. The first piece of advice I can give you to succeed in your studies at PTC (or any educational setting) is to show up to class and do your homework. But you don’t need me to tell you that. What I can give you is three less-obvious tips, and one slightly more obvious tip, to succeed not only at PTC, but after you graduate.

  • Keep your eyes on the future. To get the most out of your time at PTC, you have to focus on your studies while keeping your eyes downfield, to use a football metaphor. You’re not an NFL quarterback trying to throw a Hail Mary, but you should also be looking for opportunities beyond the line of scrimmage, so to speak. It’s important to focus on your short-term goals, from passing a test to learning the basic concepts of nursing, for example, but you also have to keep your long-term goals in mind. If nothing else, sketching out your long-term plans before you start attending classes at PTC is a great way to remind yourself why you chose to attend PTC in the first place. What else can you do to set yourself up for success beyond PTC besides studying hard and preparing for class?
  • Use the resources at the PTC Counseling and Advising Department. The last bullet point leads perfectly into this one (see how I did that?). The PTC Counseling and Advising Department is a viable resource for students trying to avoid the pass rush and make a deep throw downfield and get a big gain for their future. Okay, no more football metaphors, I promise. Visit the friendly, professional, licensed school counselors whose sole purpose at PTC is to help students navigate their programs and get on track for professional success after graduation.
  • Connect with the community . I shouldn’t have to tell you by now that if you’re attending PTC, you’re entering one of the fastest-growing job markets in the country. There are many companies in the information technology, healthcare, energy industries and more looking for qualified candidates in the Denver Metro Area. My advice to you: take advantage of this hotbed of economic activity while it’s hot. Don’t wait until you have a certificate or a degree to start looking for jobs. The Career Services Department (So useful! See above) is in contact with companies looking for workers at PTC. Get in contact with them to give yourself an inside edge when you graduate.
  • Use the Student Portal. I mean, come on. This is an obvious resource you can use in your pajamas if you want. The PTC Student Portal is a one-stop store of information where you can check your grades, find important forms, and read materials packed with valuable information. You can even plan your bus commute to and from PTC with the bus schedule in the Student Portal. Chances are if you’re reading this you know about the Student Portal, but stop reading this for a moment and re-check your Portal. You might find some more information you didn’t know was there.

You’re in school. You made it. Now it’s time to make PTC work for you.

Tips for Taking Great Pictures from PTC’s Professional Photography Program

Have you ever wanted to be a photographer? Of course you have, you’re a person. There’s nothing more attractive as a career option than getting to travel to exotic places or make a living from photographing the scenes and elements around you every day. Unfortunately for me, I never developed the skills to make my dream of using a camera for a career happen. As a result I’m sitting here typing this to tell you that it’s not too late to succeed where I failed. Think of these words as a note sent from the future telling you that the world depends on you learning how to hone your natural skills in capturing life.

It just so happens that Pickens Technical College has an excellent Professional Photography Program. The operative word in the title of the course is “professional.” Professor Lowell Mosher worked for 30 years as a professional photographer and 25 years teaching students how to succeed as a professional. The photography course at PTC, like all of the courses it offers, is equally about developing professional-level skills and how to be successful in the field. Mosher’s course also prepares students for the next level of education in photography. During his many years working as a photographer and teaching others how to be like him, he has picked up a few essential tips he hammers into his students to be a successful photographer:

  • Get to know your equipment. Mosher finds that photographers just starting out in the game tend to think that they can take any picture on any camera any time. I always struggled with using my camera and its equipment well enough to take advantage of all of its features to create the perfect shot. I also struggled with laziness and being terrible at taking pictures in general. A talented photography student like you should, according to Mosher, get to know your camera and test the settings so that you know how all the knobs and doo-hickies affect your shot.
  • Organize your shots into foreground and background. As you grow your skill in photography, you can start to experiment with different elements in your pictures. For beginners, however, the best and easiest way to organize your frame and start thinking about all the elements of each of your pictures is to consider what’s in the foreground and what’s in the background. Ask yourself what the viewer’s eye will be drawn to.
  • Be ready to make art. That is, be ready to take pictures whenever you can. Take a camera with you wherever you go and use it. Unless you’ve recently emerged from a 30-year nap in a cave or you’re vehemently against technology (in which case you’re probably not reading this blog post), you’re probably walking around with at least a phone camera everywhere you go. Inspiration strikes without warning and its moments are precious and fleeting. Take advantage of it when you can by snapping a picture of a scene or image that sticks out to you. Better yet, take your good camera or at least an intermediately good camera with you when you go out. You never know when you’ll need to take a picture of something.

Lowell Mosher challenges and engages his students to take better pictures and build a career out of photography. His instruction covers the basic elements of photography as a skill and how to build a business around those skills. And yes, you get to learn what all the doo-hickies are called on your camera and how to use them.

The Workplace Gap

Did you know that there is a huge “workplace gap” in the Denver Metro Area? Hopefully I’m not the first to tell you that, as a student at Pickens Technical College, you have unusual access to careers that can advance quickly and lead to lucrative, fulfilling work. The national economy has been on the rebound for some time and the Denver Metro Area has been one of the frontrunners in terms of opportunity for qualified, trained workers to take advantage of.

I’m not just a guy typing nonsense on a computer surrounded by a large collection of pet beetles. Jamie Merisotis, the president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, a local company, said in a recent conference of rising Denver-area businesses and organizations that “two million jobs are unfilled because of a lack of qualified employees.” The numbers back him up. A recent study on Colorado employment found that middle-skill jobs that require some education beyond high school but not necessarily a four-year degree or higher comprise about 47 percent of all jobs in the state. However, only 36 percent of the Colorado workforce is qualified to take these jobs. This has caused rising and expanding companies, especially within industries that typically employ highly specialized workers, like healthcare and information technology, to scramble to find bright, young employees to rejuvenate their companies. Do you live in Colorado? Yes. Do you want a career? Yes. Then get trained in the precise skillset you’ll need to grab one of the positions at many booming companies in booming industries here in Colorado, dummy. Companies offering workers huge opportunities for growth and development desperately need your help.

Technical degrees and certificates are hot right now in the Denver area because companies need employees that are correctly qualified to help them continue to expand and add value. You’re smart enough to begin or extend your educational journey to adulthood and a happy career by choosing PTC, now it’s time to be smart enough to take advantage of this workplace gap while you still can. PTC is plugged into the surrounding community and routinely funnels bright students to rising companies in the area. Use these connections. I can’t tell you enough how important creating a strong network of people who can help you and bail you out is. Use PTC’s network to find companies who need workers they can develop and pay well to help them grow and prosper long into the future. Smart companies know that getting workers who are qualified just right (not over- and not under-) into the right positions will help them go far. Be one of those fast risers at a profitable company by developing the skills you need at PTC and by plugging into PTC’s vast network of successful companies in the area. Or start your own company.

PTC offers nearly 50 certificate programs to adults and high school students who plan on entering a specialized field. Even those who want to move on to a four-year university to finish up their Bachelor’s degree can find resources at PTC to get their basic graduation requirements out of the way.

A Great Place to Start

Pickens Technical College, located in Aurora, happens to be sitting on top of a huge opportunity for its students. I won’t describe the complex economic forces that formed the vortex of job opportunities and growing businesses in the Denver metro area, but suffice it to say that there are many new companies here looking for many, many new workers to help them expand. For students at PTC, the time to gain workforce-ready skills is now. PTC offers its students comprehensive, hands-on training in nearly 50 certificate programs. You can expect excellent training for careers in the healthcare industry, the building trades, and information technology at PTC.

Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the past several years, you should know that healthcare, energy, and information technology are among the fastest-growing job sectors in the United States right now. (If you didn’t know that, it’s okay. That’s why I’m here.) In the Denver metro area especially, these three industries have seen a huge resurgence as new companies spring up and hire more workers. Say what you will about Obamacare, but the changes in healthcare insurance regulation has created opportunities for people like you to get into the healthcare industry as record-keepers or nurses as more people take advantage of their insurance to get more check-ups and other medical services.

PTC is a great place to start your new career or advance your dreams because of its emphasis on getting you the skills you need for the next level. Whether you’re forgoing a traditional college experience to go pro like Kobe or LeBron, or you want to get a start on an undergraduate or advanced degree, PTC has the instructors and the support structure to get you there. In an age of crippling student debt and flat job growth in many areas of the country, many students are starting their educational journeys at technical and community colleges like PTC to earn the tools they need to move on to higher education or directly into the workforce. If you don’t want to get saddled with huge debt after you graduate (trust me, you don’t), PTC is a great way to get the same education as you would get in the first two years at a traditional, four-year institution.

Did you know you can get a good job without attending a four-year institution? It’s true if you learn a technical skill you can market to companies. PTC gears many of its programs and classes to students who are seeking to start making money and begin their careers in a specialized field like auto mechanics. These courses not only teach students how to work in specific industries like auto maintenance, they also teach them how to market their skills and help their communities. Nowadays, you don’t necessarily need a four-year degree to be successful, but if you do want one, you can get started along that path for much less at PTC. We allow you to transfer to a community college, continue to a 4 year institution and enter the job market with a Bachelor’s degree. All with very little student debt, which, unless the student debt situation changes miraculously in the coming decade, is a huge advantage. Get started with PTC.