Job Fairs Highlight Job Market Challenges

By Megan Trent

August 25, 2011 Updated Aug 25, 2011 at 11:06 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - The unemployed and underemployed came by the hundreds to two Fort Wayne job fairs Thursday.

Around 150 people came to the Fort Wayne Urban League for their chance to interview with Walmart and Coca-Cola representatives.

Jonathan Ray is President of the Fort Wayne Urban League. He says, "One of the main issues in Fort Wayne and this country is jobs. So, bringing employers to the people where they need it is hugely important."

Christopher Bell of Fort Wayne went through the application process, and says it could give him an edge on the competition. "I think it'll help a lot. You just have to keep at it and keep trying to find a job, because it's really hard out here."

Walmart Market Manager, John Wolfe, also made a $40,000 donation to the Urban League on behalf of the superstore. The money will help fund employment services.

Wolf says, "It's a win-win situation, and hopefully we can get some good customers and also get some good associates out of the job fair today. Those individuals who may not get a job today - they're going to get some information and hopefully learn a few skills so that next time they will get the job,"

Ray adds, "Walmart's generous contribution of $40,000 is certainly going to go towards allowing people, like the ones who are participating in the job fair, to have another opportunity."

Fantasha Miles of Fort Wayne is a student at Brown Mackie College studying special needs education. She says Thursday's experience was a valuable way to compare jobs in other fields and prepare for interviews. "Instead of getting knocked two steps back, it knocked me four steps forward to gaining that confidence of being at a job fair."

It's no secret that finding work in today's job market is a challenge.

"I just got currently laid off from my job," says Troy Roberts of Fort Wayne. "I'm a single dad of two, and I'm needing a job."

At Memorial Coliseum, several hundred applicants came to apply for 50 to 60 part-time, seasonal positions.

"It's frustrating, but rewarding if you do actually get offered the position," says Paula Johnson, who just recently moved to Fort Wayne. "It's worth the time; worth the effort."

Applicants began their application process at Memorial Coliseum by picking up paperwork at a table in the back. They then sat down at a table for a few moments to fill out everything, before getting into a long line that stretched all the way around the room. Next, they sat down for another few minutes before being called behind a curtain for a brief interview. If things go well, the applicant will receive a call from Coliseum officials within a few days requesting another interview.

"I feel it went well," says Johnson. "I'm looking forward to maybe having the option of going through the interview process."

Applicants know they'll have to compete against a lot of other people looking for work.

"It's pretty stressful," says Roberts. "There's a lot of people looking for jobs right now, and jobs now a days are pretty scarce."

Bell adds, "It's a lot of stress, because everybody's trying to find a job. Everybody's trying to provide for their family, and it's kind of hard when they don't have a lot of jobs out here or not hiring a lot of people."

For many people, Thursday's job fairs will end in job offers. For others, it's good practice for the next time.

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