GILFORD – Nicole Rosas is always selling, it seems, and she may be the poster child of hope for what ails New Hampshire's workforce.
The 21-year-old Belmont High School graduate is entering her junior year at Plymouth State University, where she's majoring in marketing. When she graduates, Rosas will face with the same fork in the road a lot of graduates from New Hampshire colleges face: Stay here, or seek greener pastures elsewhere.
Studies show a lot of young people hit the road to elsewhere, leaving behind a state with an aging demographic mix and employers struggling with a shortage of workers as baby boomers retire and there aren't enough younger workers to take their place.
But a few decades ago, New Hampshire was the place of greener pastures for Rosas' family. She moved to the state with her mother from the South American country of Ecuador when she was 2, and they moved to Belmont when she was 5.
She speaks fondly of her high school experience and, when asked what she plans to do after she gets her sheepskin from Plymouth, she smiled, looked around the dive shop at Diversified Dock & Marine Supply in Gilford and said, “Maybe I'll work here.”
She loves her summer job doing marketing for Diversified, she said. It's given her real-world experience and a sense of what it's like to be employed in an adult job with lots of responsibility. She plans to stay in the area after graduation, and the idea of doing marketing for a pharmaceutical company or elsewhere in the health field appeals to her, she said.
Rosas caught the marketing bug at the Belmont High School Holiday Fair when she was a member of the school's Future Business Leaders of America club and filled in for a bread vendor at the fair.
“And I took over for this guy and I loved it,” she said. “I ended up making a lot of money for this guy just selling bread...That's pretty much what sparked my passion for selling things, especially when I'm passionate about what it is.”
She's selling for Diversified, but she also has some ideas about how to sell New Hampshire as a place for young people to live, work and play.
“I remember I saw a travel poster for Visit New Hampshire and it was a guy on a surfboard and I thought that was insane. Because that's definitely not the first thing I think about when I think about coming to New Hampshire, or activities in New Hampshire — surfing in the freezing cold ocean.”
Rather, she said, her pitch would revolve around the mountains, lakes, low taxes and surveys that rank the state high in quality of life and safety.
Her advice to those in state government working to stem the outward migration of the state's young people: Provide more scholarships to make state schools more affordable to high school graduates.
She also believes the state has more to offer people her age than they might think.
While she spends most of her time out of work with family and friends and enjoys hiking in the North Country, she recently discovered a part of the region she didn't know existed.
“It wasn't until recently that I got into the nightlife around here — which I didn't think there was any.”
But the past two weekends, she said, she went with some friends to a nightclub at The Weirs and was pleasantly surprised.
“It's really good nightlife,” she said. “It's popular, good music, good drinks. It's in a fun location.”
New Hampshire, she said when asked how she would describe the state to young people outside the state, is a place with “potential. Lots of potential.”
Sort of like Rosas herself, who closed with a pitch for her employer.
“Come on down to Diversified Dock and Marine Supply,” she said with a smile.