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Posted: August 01, 2011

Cote’s Colorado: Insurance for the future—a kid with a great job

Mike Cote

The U.S. economy eked out a mere 18,000 new jobs in June. Employment in the private sector stayed about the same while government cut 39,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported.

In that environment, with unemployment at 9.2 percent, my youngest son snagged a great job, beginning work almost immediately after graduation (he got married and went on a honeymoon first).

In another time, when earning a college degree offered a reasonably strong chance a graduate would secure employment, bragging about a child's new job wasn't that much of a boast, perhaps a minor annoyance to friends who had grown tired hearing tales of wonder about your offspring.

Now, for me to tell you that my 22-year-old math major was hired by a fast-growing technology company that added 26 full-time workers in May and June alone and pays them well, you might want to hunt me down and smack me.

And I wouldn't blame you. Three years into this mess, life is still looking pretty rough out there. Baby boomers fortunate to be employed are constantly looking over their shoulder as companies continue to shed jobs. Those who were cast adrift over the past few years as real estate, retail, law firms, auto dealers, education, architects, landscapers, contractors, restaurants, media - damn near everything - drastically reduced their payrolls or shut down altogether wonder whether they will ever gain full employment doing something that doesn't involve wearing an apron and knowing how to point customers to the correct aisle.

Not that there's any shame in such jobs - they just don't pay like the ones the boomers left behind when companies closed, governments trimmed staff, divisions outsourced or their own small businesses failed when their customers could no longer afford their goods and services and banks no longer were willing to lend them money to squeeze through the tough times.

My son, Eric, landed at Fast Enterprises, a company with a name so generic yet so symbolic of what we all hope to see more of in this shaky economy. Fast anything sounds good to me. The Greenwood Village-based business which employes 375 people, develops tax software systems to track revenue for state and municipal governments. Hardly a surprise that a company specializing in making sure taxing entities don't leave money on the table is thriving in an era when most are strapped for cash, thanks to ever-shrinking sales and property tax collections.

I had never heard of Fast Enterprises before my son began interviewing with them. But by the time the company had hired him, I had a serendipitous opportunity to meet one of its executives, Justin Ball, during the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation's debut Colorado Experience trip to Colorado Springs.

It's a rare moment indeed to hunt someone down at lunch so you can thank them for giving your son a job, one that likely will set him on a career path in which he will thrive and be able to adapt to an ever-changing business world. The primer Ball gave me on the company was enough to remind me of our annual Best Companies to Work for in Colorado feature that appears in this issue. I have a feeling my son is working for a contender.

If this all sounds over the top, consider this: There is hope out there, folks. I can't imagine feeling a greater sense of pride and relief to see my son striking out on his own, an autonomous adult gainfully employed. We once took such things for granted. Now every job created is a precious commodity, the difference between living a fulfilled, prosperous life and hanging in doubt.

These anxious days will end. Not today. Not tomorrow. Probably not for several years, as we're being constantly reminded. But for now, I have a kid with a great job. And I really would like an iPad for Christmas.
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Mike Cote is the former editor of ColoradoBiz. E-mail him at mcote@cobizmag.com.

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Readers Respond

Encouraging news for all parents who have graduating children. You often hear all about the negative experiences so it's a nice surprise to hear a positive story such as yours! Thanks for sharing. By Sally on 2011 08 03

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