CareerWise Apprenticeship update during COVID-19 restrictions; the first CareerWise graduate is a success story, options multiplier

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Good afternoon to our supporters and partners in CareerWise. We wanted to share three things with you in this update.  The first is our response to what’s happening with COVID19 and how this program will continue.  The second is regarding Eagle County’s FIRST CareerWise graduate!  Jessica from our first cohort has accepted a full-time position with Alpine Bank and completed her apprenticeship— and will be attending college starting her studies in the fall. We couldn’t be more excited and proud to share. The third are stories from the front line as our apprentices safely work with essential businesses through the quarantine. – Director of Community Development Erik Williams, Vail Valley Partnership

COVID19 update:

After meeting at length yesterday regarding the future of this program in the face of COVID19 we strongly believe this is a program that will only become more relevant for our economic recovery.  While we don’t yet know the full extent of the impact this will have, it’s becoming apparent that businesses will be looking for cost effective and future-focused help as many will have to climb out of an economic hole they’ve never experienced before.  We’re committed to keeping this pipeline open for our future workforce.

You may hear that other CareerWise locations have decided to take a year off and we certainly respect and support our partners in this work, however both VVP and the school district believe that we need this now more than ever.  It is our intention to continue to offer this as an “options multiplier” to students but to also position CareerWise as an economic recovery tool to our businesses.  We’ll be tailoring our messaging and practices to what’s best for our businesses in this time.

I’m proud to work with the leadership team we’ve got in place.  When CareerWise corporate told us that we could take a year off if we needed it wasn’t even something that our team considered.  All of our strategic partners (Vail Valley Partnership, Eagle Schools, Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Workforce Center and YouthPower365) share our commitment and vision in this time.

There is a bright future to this program, glad you’re all a part of it.  As to the present, we’re thankful we were able to get the hiring events done before school closed.  Students who have applied to jobs are still in the process, two students accepted their new roles just this morning!  We also have apprentices working on the front lines of this crisis at Vail Health, in banking and other roles.  Their (and all of our) safety is our main concern and we thank each of you for sharing in that.

We’re here for you.  CareerWise Modern Youth Apprenticeships aren’t going anywhere and we believe this program can and will help us rebuild. Thanks for being a part of this.

Below is an email from Jessica Zuniga, our first graduate (I copied her email (with her permission) and my response as well)

Hey Erik,

I hope you are well and healthy!

I wanted to personally email you to let you know that I have officially left CareerWise and went full time here at Alpine Bank. I decided to leave because of financial reasons, I have reached that age where I am paying my own bills. Let me tell you I am not a fan of it lol.

I just wanted to express my gratitude for this program and for you as well. This program has helped me out in so many ways and that is something I will never forget. I am so grateful with all of you who have made this program possible and just seeing the growth of it, it’s amazing. I wanted to thank you personally for just the smiles you caused and the work you put into CareerWise to be the awesome program it is. I’m super glad to have met you, you’re such an inspiration to me and just seeing how you are impacting the community on a day to day basis, it’s awesome.

I did want to let you know that even though I may not be an apprentice anymore I am more than happy to still be part of the program in any way that I can. In any way that I can participate, count me in. This program is amazing and many need to hear the blessings that it brings.

Again thank you so much for everything!

Have a great day and stay healthy,


My response:


This is…by far…my favorite email that I’ve had this year.  Thank you for taking the time to write this and I/we feel the same way about you.  I look at that poster in the conference room every day that I’m in the office and think of the first class we HAD to have to make that program work.  You were all so different but so dedicated to this program and I’m so grateful that you welcomed me as a class member, learning beside you, not to mention Christy, Ebony and Mandy.

The purpose of this program is to introduce a student to a career path they may not have known about, guide them through the hiring process and…hopefully…find them good employment down the line.  This is the path we’ve been on for these last three years and you’re proof that it works!  With your permission, I’d like to consider you the first graduate of Eagle County CareerWise, knowing that it’s early but hey, that’s always been you????  I’ll have to talk to CareerWise in Denver but, honestly they look to us for direction in things like this.  They know you!  You opened the door for every Alpine Bank in the state by the way you handled your first year there, and I know it wasn’t always easy.

I also think that’s the way you help the program the most in the future, if we’re able to point to you as someone whom the process really worked for. 

Think about it…and then say “yes, Erik that sounds awesome.” (She accepted)

No matter what, we care about you. I hear you that living as an adult is hard. It stays that way, but once it’s under control it gets to be a lot of fun.  Please reach out to me with anything you need, worked related or not, if you think I could help out.  Thank YOU for everything you did for this program.  Thanks from the apprentices in it now and the thousands (you know it!) to come.  You guys were pioneers and made it a pleasure for me to come work with you.

Forever grateful you took a chance, Erik.

And finally, here’s a look at what some of our apprentices are doing on the front lines

Dalia Aguirre and the team at Alpine Bank in Avon are spicing things up and staying positive (and distant!) by dressing up 80’s style last Friday!  They continue to keep a smile on their faces and help assist all of their costumers with applications to the many relief programs that are being offered to our local businesses and families.

Dayanara Yamile Gullen Silva is an apprentice that works with Vail Health and is working around the clock scheduling appointments for the Mira Bus, which is providing free on site COVID screenings in local neighborhoods across our valley.  When I recently got to speak with Dayanara she said, “I feel like working through this pandemic is so worth it because I am getting to speak to the Hispanic community and answer their questions about COVID 19.  They really appreciate my help and feel better when someone helps them out who speaks Spanish. Especially when they ask questions they thought no one could answer.”

“To me this work that I am doing is a big accomplishment because I love helping others out and I feel a whole lot better when I do!  I wish I could also do more to help out the Hispanic community. But one step at a time.”


Vail Valley Partnership, in collaboration with Eagle County Schools, Colorado Mountain College, and YouthPower365, is happy to bring CareerWise to Eagle County. To learn more or to participate, contact Erik Williams at 970.477.4000, explore our website here, and visit