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The City Journals

Career day speakers tell Jordan High students to follow their passion

Jul 08, 2019 02:34PM ● By Julie Slama

Entrepreneur Chase Wagstaff, right, answers Jordan High students’ questions about his invention, the SnoGo, at the school’s recent career day. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Before Jordan High senior Jeddy Bennett graduated as valedictorian of his class in June, he attended Jordan High’s Career Day.

“It provides an opportunity for students to learn about fields they may be interested in pursuing and answers about what they do,” he said. “That firsthand overview of their job and learning from their experience may help us as we decide what careers we may want to do.”

That may prove invaluable, Canyons School District Superintendent Jim Briscoe said.

“This gives students a different type of education, a purpose, so they have a better sense of what they need to study and why,” he said. “This gives students a flavor of what they think they want to do. It helps them to connect to people in the field and learn from them. It could save them thousands of dollars and time if they discover now it’s not what they want to do rather then after a year of college or training.”

Student leaders escorted speakers to classrooms. Senior Cody White volunteered to accompany entrepreneur Chase Wagstaff.

“I’m interested in becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own high-end brand of street wear,” White said. “I’ve taken marketing, retail entrepreneurship and nearly every business class I can, but I’m interested in learning what he has to say because he’s been there and is doing it.”

Wagstaff took students through his life post high school, which included a year of college, how he networked, filed a patent, then had to fight a lawsuit to prove it was his idea, and how he kept trying, even after some ideas failed.

“I learned to love the mistakes and all the times they didn’t succeed,” he said. “From those, I learned how to be successful. Nobody told me how to succeed.”

Wagstaff, who values mentors who have helped him, said it’s important to know “why you’re doing what you’re doing.”

“I started my business to make a ton of money. If you do that, you’ll fail. When you start a business, and know why you are doing it, and are passionate about your cause, that’s the only way you’ll be successful,” he said.

After several failed start-ups, Wagstaff and his friend created SnoGo, “a fusion between skiing and mountain biking.”

“I grew up skiing, but when I was a teen, I wasn’t loving it. I wanted to figure out some other way to enjoy Utah’s snow, so I tried ski bikes at Brighton. It was super fun, but not very well designed. I got so involved about finding a way to enjoy the snow and not sitting on the sidelines, it became a passion. And the more I researched and talked about it, the more investors became excited. That was seven years ago,” he told students. “Be patient and again, know why you want to do it.”

Students also learned from an architect, engineers, veterinarians, a computer programmer, pilot and medical professionals, such as Randy Krueger in medical manufacturing.

“I love the manufacturing side of business and when I had the opportunity to go into medical devices, I jumped because it is my passion,” he said. “Medical devices helped my grandmother and mom and I’m grateful.”

Chef Vaughn Hobbs also followed his passion.

“I get to get up every morning and get to do my hobby every day,” he told students. “I get do what I love and get to be paid for it. There was a lot of learning, but I get paid well as an executive chef.”

Hobbs, who has been a television chef on channels 4 and 13, also has a YouTube following.

“It’s great to be proactive and promote yourself. Everyone needs to know how to market themselves,” he said.

He answered students’ questions from how he got started — first working at JC Penney’s café at age 14 before joining the ProStart chef program in high school — to why there are 100 pleats in a chef’s hat — dating back to the 16th century, he said the toque was folded to represent the number of ways a chef knows to cook eggs.

District Career Technical Education Coordinator Patti Larkin said many students learned about jobs on career day.

“It’s been eye-opening for many of our students to connect with jobs they were interested in or may not have known about,” she said. “The career fair also gave students a chance to get a summer job on the spot.”