PTC Culinary Program Puts on Boys and Girls Club Feast

It’s back to school time, but over the break, Pickens Technical College’s Culinary Program put on a feast for members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. 150 family members, volunteers, and employees were served savory pot roast, mashed potatoes with gravy, baked macaroni and cheese, spring baby greens, and holiday cupcakes, and candied pretzels. The event was championed by Culinary Arts students when asked what they could do for their community.

“The idea came from our student Teon Holt. He attended this same B&G club as a child. In 2009 he was Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver Youth of the Year,” says Culinary Arts instructor Tiffani Antinora. Holt indeed was a shining star at the Boettcher branch of an organization with many locations throughout the United States and several in the Denver area. Holt says it had a significant impact on his life, and he’s not the only one.

The Boettcher branch is a particularly beloved Boys & Girls Club in Denver. It has an education center, cultural arts center, technology lab, weight training room, kitchen, gym, social recreation room, and a teen game room. Kids of all ages can come together in a safe space and be themselves while learning and forming important relationships.

The Culinary Arts program at PTC emphasizes community service in part because “Students learn how they can give back to their community through their work in the Culinary industry,” says Antinora. What good is a chef who doesn’t use their skill to help the community and learn how to care for people? That’s why Holt and his classmates decided to host an event for the entire Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver community. This latest holiday service project exemplified the importance of community outreach and taught the students that giving back to their community can be extremely rewarding, especially near the holidays.

It’s projects like these that draw the community to the Culinary Arts program at PTC, and why employers are usually so keen on hiring Pickens graduates in the field they want to work in. At Pickens, you get not only top-notch classroom instruction, you get the essence of what being a professional is all about. In the culinary world, it’s about the community and giving back to the people who support you. It can be moments like the ones at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver feast that sustain careers and inspire people.

When asked about her favorite moment from the event, Antinora described Holt interacting with some of the children: “It was great seeing Teon serving the children, he was the inspiration for this community service project.”

Emily Bobrick, Cultural Arts Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, described her favorite scene from the event:

“My favorite moment from the event was introducing Teon and talking about when we used to make and sell breakfast burritos in the mornings during our summer program. Teon was about 12 then, and would talk about wanting to be a chef when he grew up while we were scrambling eggs and frying bacon. It is hard to find words to describe the pride I felt in seeing that dream come full circle. I have worked with hundreds of kids in my time here. Many we have lost track of, some have graduated from high school and even college, some continue to face challenges and have not yet met success, so it is absolutely incredible to still get to see the rare few that are able to persevere and achieve their goals, knowing that the work we do played a part in that success. The fact that Teon pushed his classmates to do their service at our club is a true testament to the impact that we have had on his life. I have worked in youth development for nearly 20 years, and that was one of the proudest moments of my career.”

Every year, many programs at PTC work with community organizations and businesses to form partnerships with its community in the Denver area. There are many options for a Pickens graduate using these connections after graduation. You might learn a thing or two.

Need a Job After Graduation? Ask the PTC Career Advisors!

People enroll at Pickens Technical College because they want to take that next step in their careers. They want to start a new career the right way. They want to advance quickly and take advantage of the opportunities in front of them. Not only is all instruction and classwork at PTC designed to help students like you translate skills into workable abilities, the PTC’s career advisors are also here to help you fill in the cracks of your education and help you develop job-finding skills.

In case you haven’t figured it out already, finding work is hard work. The skills necessary to do the job you’re applying for are of course the most important, but seeking out employers and jobs, writing your resume and cover letters, and interviewing for that dream job are all skills in themselves, too. That’s where Career Advisors like Raechel Anderson and Jenise Rosa come in.

At the Career Services office, you can find all kinds of resources designed to connect you with prospective employers who are always looking for skilled PTC students to contribute to their companies.

I asked Anderson and Rosa about their experiences as Career Advisors and how they help students start careers after they graduate. Below are my questions and their responses:

What are students most apprehensive about when looking for a job?

Anderson: “Finding a company that is the right fit and offers enough pay to be able to support themselves in Colorado’s expensive housing market.”

Rosa: “I think it’s the fear of the unknown and just giving themselves permission to be confident in who they are. After spending so much time drafting their skills it’s now time for them to be confident in applying those skills while still sending the message that they are excited and willing to continue learning!”

What is the one piece of advice you wish you got before your first job interview?

Anderson: “How to stay calm when being interviewed, because it can be a nerve racking experience.”

Rosa: “The importance of being proud of “your story” – meaning that many people have skills and the proper training but more often than not companies are hiring the whole person not just their training. They want to know why you care, why you want that job, what you’ve been through that makes you persevere and push through those most challenging obstacles.”

What are some common concerns that PTC students raise when looking for a job?

Anderson: “Are there jobs in the area they want to live, will employers believe they are qualified enough, and again the pay.”

Rosa: “Because of our beautifully diverse population for many of our students English is their second language and that can be intimidating when going into interviews. In those situations, practice is critical to allow students to feel comfortable in their answers.”

How many students come you looking for job interview advice and what are some of the things you tell them?

Anderson: “The numbers vary. I provide them with a list of the most asked questions so they can practice, I talk to them about calming techniques, not saying “um” and that it’s okay to pause, how to dress, to show up 15 minutes early, and how to properly answer questions.”

Rosa: “All of our students are looking for employment in varying levels – I encourage them to be confident, be proud of who they are/ where they’ve come from/ what they’ve been through / and the skills they’ve developed. I also stress the importance of being sure they can “back up” their resume with very specific examples to elaborate on their experiences and goals.”

If you’re nervous about your interview or you don’t know where to start, the Career Advisors team is here for you. Stop by and ask them questions!

New Semester, New Start

The new semester is here. It’s time to change out of your pajamas and head back to school. While the shock of going to class again is reverberating throughout many students this week, it doesn’t have to be an ordeal that leads to disorganization and further pain as the semester rolls along. I borrowed a few study and organizational habits from high school students and my experiences in college to help you all prepare for success in 2018. Let’s look at a few ways to start strong again at Pickens Technical College this semester:

Do What You Have to do to Stay Organized
Everyone wants to be more organized. Everyone puts that down as a New Year’s Resolution. But how can you do it? Many thought leaders in this subject have all kinds of specific products and services they use to keep their deadlines straight and the schedule together, but in the end, every organization plan is different.

It depends on you as much as anything else to find a good organization plan and utilize it every day. For me, I use several methods to keep everything in order.

First, I have a master calendar. It’s a cheap desk calendar that I hang on my wall with thumbtacks. You can find all kinds of fancy wall-hanging calendars, but for a simple, no-frills calendar with plenty of space to write in your events and deadlines, I find the desk calendars are the best. They also cost a fraction of what the large wall-hanging calendars with pretty decorations cost.

Using different colored Sharpies, I create a calendar with all the deadlines, ‘life events’ (such as doctor’s appointments, reminders to call my mom, etc.), and important dates recorded in one place where I can read it at a glance. I try to plan as much of my month in advance, but since more deadlines and important dates will inevitably come up, I set aside some time every Monday morning or Sunday night to plan my week as best I can. But the write-in calendar isn’t the only way I keep track of shifting deadlines and ever-changing ‘life events.’

Make it Easy to Plan
Part of what makes planning ahead so onerous is the time it takes. For quick additions to my calendar, if I’m on the move or don’t feel like writing everything out on my wall calendar, I use Google Calendar. It’s easy to access and add to on my phone, it automatically sends me notifications of events in advance, and it catches everything I don’t write in Sharpie. I try to make these calendars match up at least somewhat to avoid confusion, but as long as you have some record in advance of deadlines for tests, papers, etc., you have the power to prepare adequately for them.

When it’s Time to Study, Make a To-Do List
Did you know there’s a free template for to-do lists in Google Sheets? It automatically crosses things off your to-do list when you mark down that you’ve completed a task. I find it’s very helpful to organize my time daily to make sure I’m getting through all the work I need to complete. I can use my Google Calendar and my wall calendar to prioritize projects, get started on things enough in advance to do them well, and fit my tasks into my day every day.

The bottom line is to find a system that keeps you on task and organized. There are a million ways to use all the various programs for organizing your time. Research what services might be useful to you, and stick with it. If you have everything you need to do and when recorded in at least one place, you’ve won half the bat