• Plant and Horticulture Sale at Pickens Tech

    It’s almost time for the annual plant sale, sponsored by the Pickens Technical College Horticulture program. Every year, Urban Horticulture and Landscaping students cultivate and nurture all the plants you’ll need to build the ultimate garden each spring and summer. This year, the three-day event will be held May 10 th through the 12 th , open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. each day at the PTC campus in Aurora. The great spring plant sale has everything you need for your garden and planters, including friendly advice from both Horticulture teachers and students.

    The Urban Horticulture and Landscape Program prepares students for entry-level employment in four specialties within the field: interior and nursery plantscaping, greenhouse operations and design, and landscaping. Students learn about the materials they’ll be using on the job, the operations of professionals in this field, and successful business practices. Their instructors are experienced both in teaching and in the horticulture and landscaping field. As with all PTC instructors, their primary goal is to prepare students for work in the industry and future success.

    Urban Horticulture students from PTC have gone on to do great things and have successful careers. One example is Veronika Tucker, who, after receiving her Landscape Management certificate from PTC, went on to work for a Denver-area landscaping firm. “This program offers so much hands-on training which helps the transition from school to the workplace”, said Tucker, as a part of an interview with the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado .

    The Horticulture program at Pickens has produced many successful landscapers in the Denver area over the years, and they’re excited to share their knowledge and plants with you. Proceeds go back to the school and the Horticulture program to support hands-on training in the community and the connections that students can use to find employment when they graduate from the program. Not only will you get the finest plants and gardening supplies from the Horticulture Plant Sale, along with the knowledge you’ll need to plant and care for them properly if you need it, you’ll be supporting a program that puts aspiring landscaping professionals in great jobs throughout the community. Pickens fosters relationships with local employers to send them highly-trained and well-educated employees looking to start or shift their careers.

    Be sure to get to the plant sale early if you can; these beautiful, elegant, and hardy plants go quickly every year as amateur and professional gardeners flock to this event to see what the Horticulture students at PTC have to offer them. Get them at affordable prices in time to build your own garden and landscaping space at your home this spring and summer.

  • Middle Skill Jobs: An Alternative to the Conveyor Belt

    If you’re interested in Pickens Technical College or if you already attend classes there, chances are you’re looking into a career in a ‘middle skill’ profession. Middle skill jobs are those that require education beyond a high school diploma, but don’t require a four-year university degree. Their education requirements are ‘in the middle’ between Bachelor’s degrees and high school degrees. These jobs usually require specialized training and experience for entry, which is exactly what PTC provides students.

    Why Going to PTC can be More Beneficial than Attending a Four-Year University

    One word: tuition. Four-year universities, even for in-state students that qualify for lower rates, are incredibly expensive, and it’s getting worse. On top of tuition, incoming Freshmen at these universities usually have to pay for housing, books, food, and other expenses that inevitably come up. Universities have their place for many students looking into certain careers, but they don’t have to be the only option for everyone.

    It’s difficult to know what you want to do with the rest of your life at 18 years old, but if you know you want to start working in a certain field that requires hands-on training and education in a one- or two-year program, you can enroll at a vocational school like PTC and pay far less for the same end-result as a university education: a rewarding and lucrative career.

    Four-year universities are great if you’re unsure of what you want to do and you don’t mind paying off student loans after you graduate. The first one or two years at a four-year college are spent completing prerequisites and introduction classes, many of which are outside your desired field of study. You might be exposed to many different subjects that interest you, but you won’t get to what will actually prepare you for a career until you’re an upper classman. At PTC, you’ll get right into the learning you’ll actually need in your chosen career from day one.

    Rising Demand for Middle Skill Jobs

    In all states, particularly those with robust job markets and economies like Colorado, companies are having trouble filling positions that require specialized skills from a vocational school like PTC. According to a study by the National Skills Coalition , half of all jobs in Colorado in 2015 were middle-skill positions. The same study projected that between 2015 and 2025, 45% of all job openings in Colorado will be middle-skill positions.

    Students have been scared off by vocational colleges like PTC because of the stigma surrounding those who don’t attend four-year universities. But with more four-year diplomas out there than ever, employers are looking beyond education lines on a resume and instead looking for skilled workers with specific experience.

    PTC offers uncommon student support in finding jobs after graduation, student organizations that help build skills and connections, and programs all geared towards teaching students by doing, along with rigorous classroom instruction. The teachers have connections with employers in the field looking for talented workers immediately, and they all know what it takes to succeed in their field.

  • Why You Should Attend Career Fairs

    First, a plug: The Fifth Annual Pickens Technical College Career Fair will be held April 25, 2018 from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on campus, in Buildings A, B, E, the Student Resource Center, and the Student Commons. Employers from around the state will be there to answer questions and make connections with potential new-hires (you). Among those employers are Bright Horizons Family Solutions , The Colorado Visiting Nurse Association , Floyd’s 99 Barbershop , Shea Properties , and more. If you’re attending PTC, you should be looking beyond the graduation date at what your future employment could look like. Going to this career fair is a great way to do that. Here’s why:


    Not everyone likes to do this, but in order to make it in a particular field, especially as a newcomer with little to no experience, networking with employers and other workers is crucial. You have a much better chance of being hired if the employer knows you and likes you and can match your face and first impression with your resume. Employers want to work with people they know and get along well with. Job fairs are great opportunities to show you can get along with them and to get to know them.

    Getting face time with potential local employers is critical, but so is meeting and getting to know other job-seekers. These individuals might know people hiring in your field and could help point you in the right direction.


    It sounds silly, but the more you practice being interviewed and introducing yourself to potential employers, the better you’ll be at it. Get used to squeezing palms, smiling, standing up straight, looking people in the eye, and dressing the part. A job fair can be like an interview trial run, where you can see which networkers are getting the most attention from employers. Catch a glance at a few of the resumes being passed around and try to steal a few formatting ideas for your own. Many of the same techniques you’ll use at a job fair to catch recruiters’ eyes you’ll use later in interviews.

    Some employers might interview applicants on the spot at job fairs, so it’s a good idea to come prepared with answers to a few of baseline interview questions you know you’ll be asked, such as “what are your biggest weaknesses?” “What are your biggest strengths?” etc. Even if you’re not interviewed right then and there, you’ll at least be prepared to handle a few basic questions about yourself if asked.

    A Free Resource

    You might not know it yet, but truly free job-seeking resources are dwindling. There are career websites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and LinkedIn, but those won’t get you the same face-to-face exposure to employers actively looking for recruits in your community as a career fair. Some recruiting companies are starting to charge job-seekers, rather than the employers, for their services. A free resource like a career fair, which can teach you all the lessons you’ll need to find a job and put you in a room with recruiters and other job-seekers is invaluable to your job search after graduation.

    Visit the Career Services Desk at PTC to learn more about the upcoming Career Fair at PTC!

  • Skills USA State Conference Starts on April 18th

    It’s that time of year yet again. The SkillsUSA statewide conference will be held at the Hotel Elegante in Colorado Springs from April 18 th to April 20 th . Pickens Technical College always sends a large contingent of skilled students to compete at both the state and national level of the SkillsUSA challenge.

    SkillsUSA is a nation-wide partnership of industry workers, teachers, and students collaborating to make the American workforce more skilled. Through its development of “Framework” skills, SkillsUSA works to improve the quality of the US’s future skilled workforce, focusing on manufacturing, engineering, human service jobs like cosmetology, and more. SkillsUSA holds national competitions in vocational skills every year, and each state determines its champions to compete on the national level.

    Last year, students from PTC’s Cosmetology department performed well at the national competitions, as well as students from several other PTC departments. This year will offer several more competitors in the SkillsUSA contests. These competitions test students’ aptitude in different tasks centered on their skill of choice. These tests are highly competitive and intense, and winning recognition is very difficult in this setting.

    SkillsUSA’s Framework gives competitors and students a common language for students to explain what they have gained from SkillsUSA participation so they can share their experiences with possible employers, school administrators, parents, and other students. The Framework also assesses the progression of skill development for students in a learning continuum of awareness, demonstration, and mastery. It also sets a clear vision for all SkillsUSA programs at local, state, and national levels, ensuring effective, student-led experiences that build skills and confidence. This approach helps students achieve career success in their chosen fields, in part by delivering an in-demand skillset that will set them apart from their peers when they’re looking for jobs. Every student member gets a consistent and specific skillset.

    Aside from the skills and the competitions themselves, SkillsUSA also strives to work between industry leaders, teachers, and students to provide employability and leadership training—skills that are useful in any field at any time. Right now, a workforce gap is widening between employers and the skills they need from the workforce. More would-be employees are pursuing other careers and skills besides vocational training in industries like manufacturing and engineering. Perhaps the most important mission of SkillsUSA is to encourage more young people to pursue these skills and vocations by offering employment training and competition.

    PTC has partnered with SkillsUSA for years and is actively engaged in the community to give students opportunities to hone their skills and widen their futures after graduation. SkillsUSA competitors get a sense of how to use their skills in an exciting event while learning the other skills they need to get a job in their field of choice. For this year’s competition, the students and teachers are fired up once again to represent PTC on the state and hopefully the national level. Wish the competitors luck this year!

  • PTC Success Stories: Stephanie Jordao

    Stephanie Jordao came to Pickens Technical College’s Nail Technician Program already professionally trained as an artist. It was 2014, and Jordao had recently moved to Denver after 16 years in California. An Army wife, Jordao’s husband was relocated and was preparing to head out on an 11-month deployment. Jordao had to do something.

    According to an interview with Nails Magazine , Jordao wanted to learn a new skill and connect with her new community. She boiled down her choices to two options: nail technician school or pastry school. She decided to pursue nail art and enrolled in PTC’s Nail Technician Program.

    The Nail Technician Program encourages students to not only learn how to paint nails and provide many kinds of cosmetology services, they also learn what it takes to run their own businesses and to truly be a part of their community. Instructors Shirleen Woods and Deborah Vigil prepare their students with rigorous, advanced nail techniques along with instruction on how to run the business end of things, so they can be successful in their new careers.

    Jordao was a Nail Technician star from her first day. She was a professional muralist back in California, and she used her natural artistic ability to earn her Nail Technician Certificate and graduate from PTC as the Student of the Year.

    She opened her own salon, Design Culture Salon , in late 2016 and decided to offer customers a little something different than the typical nails salon: henna tattoos.

    Henna tattoos are impermanent designs using ancient skin dying techniques that can add flair and give people body art they can show off without wearing it for life. Jordao gives her customers a chance to try it first free of charge in many cases, so they can experience what it looks like and how it feels. “Plus, my clients are more adventurous and open to nail art when it’s free,” she told Nails .

    Jordao’s entrepreneurial spirit and her love of art makes her nail salon a success. Like all small businesses, she started small, but now she’s routinely booked nearly around the clock with new and returning customers. She’s always excited to try new designs, and her website tells clients to “choose a custom design, come in with your own design, or just bring some inspiration and we’ll see where it leads!” Her joy in creating beautiful body art combined with the considerable skills she honed at PTC make Design Culture an excellent place to explore henna tattoos and get great nail service.

    Jordao’s story and success paves the way for more up-and-coming, skilled small business owners graduating from PTC and entering the Denver metro area community to bring their services to many more people every day. With a focus on the skills needed and the ways to make it happen, PTC students can start their business and be successful if they have the heart and the determination of Jordao. Thanks to her own talent, work ethic, and PTC’s instruction, Jordao does what she loves for a living.