We recently were invited to take part in Sharon Springs School Career Day where we spoke with Juniors & Seniors about our career(s). We aren’t actually even sure what our career is right now, so we asked our Facebook friends, who mostly told us that we’re “entrepreneurs.” (Among many other funny things.)

Sharon Springs is lucky to have a very small student population, which means a much lower student:teacher ratio. And the school is also home to some truly fabulous teachers. The perfect recipe for a bright future.

The students we met had dreams of becoming everything from conservation officials, to pastry chefs, to writers, to CPAs, to sports managers, to auto repair specialists… some of them taught US about career possibilities. Coming from such a great, tight-knit community, these kids have a great shot at becoming anything they want. And we know they will.

Here are a few pointers we shared:

1. Check all the Boxes, plus a few more. Some career paths are well marked…simply get good grades, get admitted to college, and apply for a job. But with job competition greater than ever, it helps to have a few extra boxes checked. Volunteer at charities associated with the industry you eventually would like to work in. Write letters to potential mentors in your chosen career asking for advice. Start blogging about your career dreams and feature interviews from successful people already in the field.

2. First impressions really do matter. We were impressed to see several students dressed in suits and nice professional clothes. They caught our eye…it makes sense to dress nicely for Career Day, and we appreciated it. As will future employers. This is also true for communication skills. If we receive an email from a potential employee or business partner that has multiple spelling or grammatical errors, we’re likely to pass on it in favor of a well-written communication. (Like everyone, we make spelling errors too…but we always do our best to communicate in a manner that’s professional and easy to understand. Why get passed over for something as silly as not spell-checking?)

3. Actively choose your path. Don’t let it choose you.  We’re poster boys for career A.D.D. We each have held many kinds of jobs, starting in our early teens. And even though we’ve had what looks like great strokes of luck (getting our own television show, having a first book published, working with Martha Stewart, getting the chance to compete on The Amazing Race) none of these opportunities would’ve happened if we hadn’t both done the legwork, and taken a risk. Each one of these terrific developments came about because we reached out and networked for them. (And made sure we’d earned the credibility to gain someone’s confidence.)

What career tips would you share with the students in Sharon Springs? Leave them in the comment section below. Let’s make this page a resource for Career Days everywhere.

by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

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Delia D.

P.S. My advice to students is dream large, and view your failures as opportunities to grow. Also, this is such great advice that it bears repeating: “Actively choose your path. Don’t let it choose you.” And don’t let others choose your destiny. Go with your gut. Don’t let fear or money rule your decisions.
Good Luck!

Alicia D'Ambrosio

As an elementary principal, I believe that career days are wonderful, even for students in K-6. In the Utica, New York we have career days, community readers day, and community musician days. In city schools it is very important to expose students even at an early age to career options and to members of their community!!! As an educator I always discuss students’ futures and encourage them to reach their goals!
This year we started a school newspaper where students interview staff and community members about their careers. I look forward every other week to reading students’ interviews and book reviews!
If you are ever interested in visiting us we are a hop…skip…and a jump down the thruway:)
Thanks for your positive message on both your show and The Amazing Race! My seven year old son was excited to see you win!!!! Keep on inspiring!


If you want the freedom to follow your dreams wherever they may lead, DO NOT GO IN DEBT. Take a year or two to experience life and help others before you decide on college, try Americorps–it’s a great program. When you choose a direction for your life, realize that the path may be a spiral, not a straight line.
That said, wherever you work, show up on time, and know that while no one owes you anything, they may give you priceless experience. A positive attitude and a love of learning impresses me more in an interview than anything, and please dress nicely for the interview, even if the job involves real dirty work.
When life pulls the rug out from under your feet, and it will, many times, know that you have a precious opportunity to reinvent your life and choose a new direction.
“How can I help you” is a mantra worth repeating.
My best lesson, ever, in my own work life? If someone drives you nuts, in a really bad way, you just can’t stand being in the same room with them, set a challenge for yourself. Find one thing to do for that person, every day, anonymously, that will make their life a little better, easier, brighter. It sounds impossible, but it will transform your work experience, and you.


Consider the lessons everyone has to teach you — not just the people who agree with you or the people who love you. Everyone you come in contact with has an exeprience and a lesson to teach that you can benefit from. Consider and evaluate the experiece everyone can offer you. My personal philosophy in work is to always “…find the gift…” in whatever circumstance. There is always a gift, even if it’s just a lesson to never do things that way again. Finally, value and love some part of your work experience. No matter how lowly, your work has value and if you bring everything you have to every job, no matter how humble, you will have greater happiness in the job and others will see and value your contribution.

Christine Eggleston

Find something you love to do….and someone willing to pay you to do it…that’s the perfect job!

Kim Sadowski

The best career for you is not necessarily the one that is the easiest or the one that feels good all the time. Finding a way to use your gifts to bless others requires effort. That said, being “Microsoft Office Certified” will help you get that first job, and being able to sort out large databases and get meaningful information from them with more advanced software is relevant for many fields today. Having useful information helps us to solve the really big problems that the world faces.

Linda Turner

Success is a perception. If you challenge yourself to learn new things, do everything to the best of your ability, and be persistent-in all the aspects of your life-you may then feel ‘successful’. Happiness and contentment have more to do with success than prestige or monetary gain. Would I have done anything different when I left high school knowing what I know now? Probably…mostly, I think of things I was ‘afraid’ to do. Why didn’t I just try? Don’t ever be afraid of failing…in fact, don’t even use that word! Instead, think of experiences as opportunities to find out what you really love to do. Have confidence in what you do know, as well as in your ability to learn something new. Don’t take ‘no’ as an end-all…find another route. My grandmother used to say “Tomorrow is another day…” . When things are overwhelming, I just stop and think of that…it gives me hope that things can change, and also allows me time to regroup and try to think of solutions to my issues.
Most importantly, don’t hesitate to ask for help! Be honest with everyone and yourself. Accept your unique traits (including those you consider ‘faults’ like procrastination and criticism) and find ways to turn them into positive energy. Smile at everyone (even if they don’t smile back), think of others in everything you do, and stick to your beliefs. In other words, be inspired by people like Josh and Brent who are living their life driven by their mission to be everyone’s friend and help others to find their way. Listen…


I’m a former high school English teacher, and when it comes to job interviews, here are a few things I passed on to my students. Make sure you’ve got a nice,firm handshake; understand the importance of listening; always maintain eye contact; and take time to write a handwritten note to an employer. Politeness counts.


As a former hiring manager, I can underscore everything Marian said. Unfortunately, politeness is a diminishing quality and you will absolutely distinguish yourself from the other candidates if you are respectful and impeccably polite.

Mrs. Anne Allen

As one of the co-advisors to the Junior class at Sharon Springs, I would like to thank Josh and Brent for taking time out of their busy schedules to talk to our students. Thank you both for sharing your stories and advice. Happy Holidays!!!


I’m currently kind of in a career crisis/crossroads. I’m not quite sure what I want to do. But I do know I never want to stop learning and experiencing things.

But I would tell people from Sharon Springs, to not be afraid to go somewhere new. Being from a small village/town and going somewhere where there is a bigger population can be intimidating, but give anything a chance and remember you can always go back to your hometown if need be.

Be yourselves and you guys will be awesome.


i love the show will you be doing another one in 2013 I really hope so and was so glad that you won the amazing race i was cheering you on all the way happy holidays to you both

Donna M Kujat

Be confident. Believe in your abilities. Hold your head high. Confidence exudes confidence and people will see that you are a force to be reckoned with! Above all, live each day in the moment and Laugh…a lot!

Sharon S

Money isn’t everything. Doing what you love & having a joy filled life is the best thing I ever did for myself. It’s okay to change paths along the way.

Dietrich Nelson

Always give every task your given, whether in school or in business, your best. No job or assignment is beneath you. Give each and ever one of them everything you possibly can. Think outside of the box and how you can make the project better. If you’re working with a group, work hard to make it a team. Everyone’s opinion is of value and worth considering if it will make the assignment better, implement it. Always be honest. Communications at all times is important. If you don’t understand the questions ask for clarification. Don’t expect payment or praise for everything you do. Knowing you have succeeded or part of the success is your payoff. If you fail and you will, don’t dwell on the failure – learn from it so you don’t make the same mistake again. My favorite saying is dance as no one is watching, sing as if no one is listening and live life as if your life depends on it.


you guys are truly very caring and passionate men. so wonderful to have people in this world like that, with all that has been going on. There are so many programs for toddlers/young children that there is a true need in our country for helping our teens stay on a good path or at least showing them how to get somewhere in life.
Have a wondeful christmas guys!


Always have a vision and dream big!! Be willing to get knocked down and fall down a few times, so you know what it is to be up on top. Things take time and don’t just happen right away. Hard work and persistence and not giving up is what gets it. Always ask questions and read up on things all the time. Stay present in what is going on, promote yourself and know you are worth it. Sometimes you think you want to go in one direction, but get pulled into another….follow that. Set a goal, go after it, then set another goal. never stop setting goals because if you do, you will become limited and stagnate. The only failure is never trying or quitting. The mind is strong and will take you many places.

April Hanford

I would say follow your heart and work hard, anything worth having is worth working for. If what you want to do is be a plumber or electrician be the best that you can be don’t let others critize your dreams, there is always going to be a need for such trades. Also remember that having a simple life is sometimes the best life (not everyone can be Kobi Bryant or Beyonce). Just be yourselfs, be kind to others and you will be like Josh and Brent AMAZING.


Like Renee I say do something you are passionate about. I went through two careers before I decided that I wanted to work for myself and am now working to promote my city and my state. So do not let anyone decide what career path you should take, it’s up to you and do what makes you happy.

Leigh Shearin

Don’t be afraid to keep learning. Never assume you know it all. People will respect you more if you embrace what you don’t know and enjoy the process of developing yourself along with your career. Try to sustain your sense of humor always and remember that laughter is the light of life- share it with others.


Never cease to pursue your dream, even it the path is not direct. In other words, keep your eye on the prize.


I agree you should find something that jazzes you. Something you are so excited about you wake up even before the alarm clock starts ringing. It also helps to find something where your personal talents are well remunerated.
I am a food stylist and a little crazy about minute details. People pay me to move grains of rice with a pair of tweezers. So my passion (food) + my skills (detail oriented) = a great career (food styling).

Robyn Bruce

Here’s what I told my son from the time he was a little kid. (He’s 27 years old now.) “You can be whatever you want to be, and you can do whatever you want to do. It just depends on how badly you really want it. Follow your dream/s, whatever it or they may be. Don’t let anyone deter you from your dream, don’t listen to what any nay-sayers might say. You look straight ahead at that dream and you keep following it until you get there. And any time you fall or fail, don’t give up. Pick yourself back up again, keep looking forward, keep putting one foot in front of the other. You WILL get there. You may need to make sacrifices along the way. Make them. It’s worth it.”

His dream was to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston. The tuition was $45,000/yr. He went to school with a lot of little rich kids who really didn’t care if they were there or not. While they were all out wasting their parents’ money and partying, drinking all the time, etc., my son was in his dorm room studying his tail off. His goal was to pass his tests, not with a “C”, but as high marks as he could possibly get. One night he called me from school and said “Mom, I’m just so sick and tired of people and their drinking problems and addictions. While they’re all out at parties, I’m in my room alone, studying till the wee hours of the morning, and I just feel like I’m the luckiest kid in the world to be going to the college of my dreams.” And he graduated near the top of his class.

Of course, he became down and out every now and again. It happens. But he never allowed himself to be down for too long. He just picked up that ball and began running with it again.

He came home for awhile, got a job and worked for a few years, saved up a pocket full of money, bought himself a car, packed it up and said “See ya, Mom.” And he moved to California with nothing but his packed up car, his saved up money and his GPS. No job to go to. It took a few months, but he found a job just to keep him going and then finally found a job in his field – music production and engineering. He is working in “sound”. Of course he is working his way up through the ropes. You don’t just graduate from college and begin making a $200,000.00 paycheck. At least not most people.

So, I said all of this to say – “the sky is the limit.” Your dream and your goals will only stop abruptly if you yourself put the cap on it. Your possibilities are endless. You just have to want it bad enough, and you have to be willing to make sacrifices along the way. You will get there.


Not every body is cut out for college or university life. Consider the trades if you feel that way. Plumbers and morticians are two occupations that will always have a need.

Nancy Pfau

Your advice is excellent, I might add having a positive attitude about life in general makes everyone a more appreciated employee, employer, and friend. Smile, walk with confidence, and look people in the eye when talking to them!

Erick Sommers

So, what career did you end up introducing yourselves with? I didn’t see anything on Facebook!


Before jumping into a career or a degree program see if you can intern or just shadow someone in the department you might be interested in and see if you like it or not. I have been interested in many things like radiology and dental but then I shadowed someone just for one day in those fields and decided just from that it was not right for me.

Sometimes when you are in college you take a lot of classes but don’t receive any hands on until maybe your junior or senior year. It is kinda late by then to actually get into an environment say as a nurse or dental hygienist or pharmacetical tech and realize hey I don’t really like this. So I say try to shadow someone first and then maybe look over college course books and see if the material interests you.

Janet Martin

Realize that, as much as we’d like it, no job is ever perfect. However, each job will teach you things that will help you in future endeavors. And, as a mother I have to say this: NEVER leave a job until you’ve secured another one (if the leaving is under your conditions; if not, trust that something bigger and better is right around the corner and start looking for it!).

Renee Swap

I would say to do something you’re passionate about and to pursue it while you’re young, although it’s never too late to pursue your dream because I just graduated from nursing school at age 56, something I’ve dreamed about doing my entire life.