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SOS Outreach Connects Youth with Snowsports Industry Leaders, helps chart career paths
Denver, CO – On Wednesday, three of the outdoor industry’s largest companies welcomed 27 SOS Outreach senior participants from across Colorado for an insider look at possible careers within the industry. Beyond their status as juggernauts in the outdoor industry, Vail Resorts, Head USA Winter Sports and SmartWool, Inc. are also beacons of innovation and sustainability. All three share a commitment to promoting environmental stewardship through responsible outdoor participation to preserve the places we play for future generations. Through their commitment and partnership with SOS, these three companies utilized Industry Day to provide youth with the longest tenure in the organization, with an opportunity to peer into future career possibilities. As many SOS students embark on college applications and others progress towards the career path of their dreams, Industry Day provided an opportunity to peer into future career possibilities. Now in its second year, Industry Day provides both SOS participants and key industry partners the ability to connect and discuss the possibility of a future in the outdoor industry.
SOS Outreach introduces youth ages 8-18 to a wide variety of outdoor adventure activities like skiing, backpacking and rock-climbing through a dynamic and progressive curriculum to equip youth with the confidence and skills to unleash their potential to thrive. With such experience and passion for the outdoors, SOS youth are ideal candidates for positions in the outdoor industry.
The day began with a tour of the SmartWool creative office in Boulder and included a panel discussion with a wide array of employees from extremely diverse backgrounds. SmartWool shares a similar commitment to responsible participation, pushing boundaries in their pursuit to create the best products from all natural and renewable merino wool. Their commitment shone through the panel, as their team shared the four guiding core values of their company; humanity, humility, integrity and excellence. SOS participants perked up and aptly pointed out that SOS shares two of these core values of humility and integrity. This fostered an animated dialogue focused on pursuing a career driven by one’s values. SOS’ associate director, Willy Tully commented, “Seeing SOS Outreach participants connect with SmartWool employees over shared core values created a space that made that industry suddenly feel familiar, and this connection made a career seem all the more accessible.”
Next stop was the headquarters of Head USA Winter Sports for lunch and conversation. Led by Jon Rucker, Senior Vice President for Head USA, the Head team described working on the hard goods side of the industry, describing careers in finance, marketing, sales, operations and design. SOS youth received an insider tour of the showroom and design facilities, allowing the organization’s senior participants to witness the manufacturing process of exclusive custom skis Head utilizes for its sponsored athletes. SOS participant, Camden, shared at the end of the day, “The most exciting thing for me was going to Head and these different companies to see where the creation begins and what it takes to keep people like me skiing and snowboarding.”
After lunch, the group visited Vail Resorts headquarters in Broomfield, A panel of 7 professionals from across the organization shared anecdotes about the diverse paths that led to their careers in the industry. The panel, emphasized the importance of aligning passion with areas of talent to land the perfect job, the critical need for networking and setting a path to success with internships. But the highlight was the one on one conversations SOS youth were able to have the Vail Resorts team. With experts in marketing, finance, sustainability, retail and HR, SOS youth were able to do a deeper dig into careers in the snowsports. Mairi shared, “I learned the importance of a resume and about building a strong network.” With the support of EpicPromise, SOS Outreach provides access to outdoor adventure activities for over 3,000 underserved youth each year on Vail Resorts mountains. Through Vail Resort’s ongoing commitment to creating a culture of giving and preserving the natural environments and communities in which they operate, Vail Resorts and EpicPromise are changing the realities of underserved youth who would otherwise be excluded from these activities. This fact is not lost on the SOS participants who attended Industry Day and became a topic of conversation as SOS youth mingled with the VRI team. Another SOS participant, Celeste, emphasized an important piece of advice that resonated with her deeply from VRI’s presentation, “turn your passion into a career.” She also shared, “For me today was a unique opportunity to learn more about the industries that make outdoor activities possible and fun. It also helped me see how I can turn my passion into a possible career.”
Wherever their futures and dreams may take them, SOS Outreach could not be more proud of their accomplishments; emerging as self-confident, stable and highly accomplished outdoor enthusiasts ready to take the world by storm. As SOS participants connected with a few corporate partners during the 2nd Annual SOS Outreach Industry Day, the mutual passion for the outdoors and eagerness they all feel to make the outdoor industry a more inclusive and sustainable place was clear to all. SOS Outreach is honored by the shared commitment and dedication of our corporate partners to expand participants’ understanding of the outdoors as not only a fun place to play, but also as a gateway to a brighter future.
SOS Outreach is a national youth development non-profit which utilizes adventure sports to engage at-risk students in long-term mentorship relationships. The SOS curriculum encourages responsibility, self-confidence, service, and leadership skills by instilling six core values: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, compassion and humility. Since 1993, SOS has inspired positive decision making for our 45,000 youth to enjoy healthy and successful futures.