Opportunity comes knocking

Posted: Sunday, April 04, 2004

Employers and employees got together under one roof Friday for the annual Kenai Peninsula Career and Job Fair, held at the Kenai Mall.

The fair, sponsored by the Peninsula Job Center and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, featured more than 30 employers and attracted a wide variety of potential job seekers.

One of those was Cory Glick, a 26-year-old graduate of the Alaska Vocational Technical Center program in Seward who has a background in utility maintenance. Glick, who moved to the Kenai area recently from Bristol Bay, said he attended the fair mainly to check out the booth set up by the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 367.

"I really liked that one," Glick said.

He said he didn't have a line on an immediate job but was impressed with the responses he got from the union representatives.

"They had answers to all of my questions," he said.

While at the fair, Glick said he took time to check out the other employers. He said, ideally, he'd like to find something full-time.

"If it comes down to it, I'd work a summer job to get by," he said.

Both jobs for the summer and for a career were featured Friday. In fact, anyone wishing to get their hands dirty could get a job almost immediately.

Scott Glass, a representative of Icicle Seafoods in Seward, was one of several seafood processors who attended the event. Glass said his company is looking to hire as many as 270 employees for the summer.

However, the jobs Icicle and other canneries are looking to fill aren't exactly white collar.

"Mostly it's slime line," Glass admitted.

Still, he said, coming to the job fair is a good way for his company to get in touch with young people who might be looking for something that offers long hours and steady pay.

"Every summer we get about 10 or 12 folks from the local area," Glass said.

Not every employer Friday was looking for part-time help. The Alaska State Troopers had a booth where interested participants could fill out a form indicating their interest in a career in public safety.

According to Trooper Dan Dahl, the job fair could lead to the beginning of a career in law enforcement.

"The first step is just being interested," Dahl said. "When they sign up, their name goes into our computer system that they're interested."

Dahl said troopers then follow-up with potential recruits later to see if they're still interested.

People might be surprised with the kind of people who make good trooper candidates. Dahl said it's not necessarily the most physically fit or the most intelligent people who make the best troopers.

Although those attributes help, Dahl said what's really important is the ability to deal well with people.

"We're looking for an all-around level-headed person," he said. "Someone who is dedicated to public safety. That's the key."

Dahl said troopers travel to as many job and career fairs annually as they can. The idea is to talk to and get as many people exposed to a career in law enforcement as possible.

By the end of the day Friday, Dahl's booth likely had been seen by more than 400 potential applicants. Although only a fraction of those actually stopped by to speak with the trooper, one or two of those could end up working the streets as troopers one day.

Getting job seekers matched with the right employers is the whole point of having the job fair, said Val Ischi, employment services manager with the Peninsula Job Center.

"People are really getting good responses, both the employers and job seekers," she said.

Ischi said she's happy with how Friday's event turned out, based on the number of people who attended and what she saw taking place on the floor.

"We've had nothing but good reports," she said.

Job fairs in the past have been held at Kenai Central High School on a Saturday, and Ischi said the move to the Friday-Kenai Mall set-up had a positive result.

"I think this Friday thing is working," she said.

Having the fair close to the job center's main offices which are in the mall also helped.

"It's very close to the center, and that really helps them get familiar with us, because it's right next door," she said, adding that Carr-Gottstein donated the space for the fair. "We really appreciate that."

It's impossible to know just how many people found jobs Friday. But judging by the number of people who filed in and out of the mall, some might have.

Cory Glick was not among them. Although he said he got a number of promising leads Friday, he's not quite done with his job search.

"I'm keeping my options open," he said.

Still, the job fair was a good place to start, he said.

"It's definitely helped my search."

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