By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
“What education do I need for this position?”
“How much do you make?”
“Is it fun working at the casino?”
Those and many other questions were asked by area high school students, all EBCI tribal members, at the 1st Annual Harrah’s Cherokee Tribal Mentor Program Junior/Senior Showcase on Thursday, March 28. The students had the opportunity to ask questions and learn about many different career paths and choices available at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.
“The purpose is to show our casino to our enrolled members, about the different departments, and show them what they own,” said Karina Bottchenbaugh, career development specialist who oversees the Tribal Mentoring Program at Harrah’s Cherokee. “We want to show them the different career steps they can take. We want to encourage them to go to school and go above and beyond.”
The several hundred students at Thursday’s event represented several area high schools including Cherokee, Swain County, Smoky Mountain, and Robbinsville.
Nelson Lambert, Harrah’s Cherokee, helped organize the event and said that they wanted to highlight certain jobs and skills. “A four-year degree might not be for everyone. We have things like the Mandara Spa now, and we have culinary. You don’t have to go get a business degree to work at the casino. We understand some of these kids might not want to go to a university, but they could go and get their associate’s or just go and get certain skills in life such as personality skills – what it takes to interact with people.”
Many of the departments within Harrah’s Cherokee had booths set up at the event to showcase what they do and what is needed education-wise or skill-wise to work there.
Debbie Lambert, guidance counselor at Cherokee High School, commented on the event, “It just makes them aware of all of the different opportunities that are available, especially here at the casino, with the wide range of jobs that are available to enrolled members at high-level, low-level, all areas. It’s just a great experience for our students. We appreciate the casino doing this for students.”
Jo Blaylock, Harrah’s Cherokee vice president of human resources and community relations, addressed the students at the beginning of the event. “As members of the Tribe, you are all owners of this business. As members of the Tribe, we’re all responsible for making sure this business is as successful as it can be because it supports not only the Cherokee community, but the surrounding communities in our area.”
Blaylock said that over 400 of the 2,500 employees at Harrah’s Cherokee are EBCI tribal members. “This organization is really the economic engine of the Tribe, and we all benefit from the benefits of this organization. So, we really want you to know what this organization does and what opportunities are here for you.”
“Just about any occupation you might be interested in, we have an opportunity here.”
Bottchenbaugh related that it is her hope to make this an annual event.
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