A few hundred service members, family members and veterans strolled through the American Lake Conference Center Wednesday for a chance to see employment and educational opportunities available in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Operation GoodJobs and Fastport, an apprenticeship and job matching company, partnered with more than 80 other local and regional businesses and organizations for Operation GoodJobs’ quarterly career fair on base. The event was a way for transitioning service members and their family members, as well as veterans, to network and see what jobs are available.
“A lot of companies want to hire veterans and service members,” said Paige Thompson, marketing director for Fastport. “The military (members) make such good employees, but sometimes they just need that jump up to bridge the gap and get the job.”
Cris Krisologo, program manager with the Airport Jobs Center at SeaTac Airport, also works as a facilitator in getting job seekers connected with the businesses or sections of the airport looking for employees.
There are 19,000 jobs at the airport and many open positions for employees looking for entry-level or management positions. Employees, even at the entry level, are eligible for Airport University classes to advance their careers, as well as Alaska Airlines scholarships for outside college coursework. One doesn’t have to work for Alaska Airlines to be eligible for those scholarships, Krisologo said.
“Entry level is a good way to start, and you can advance from there,” she said.
Staff Sergeant Todd Hunt, who is stationed at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas, with the 323rd Army Band, is currently on a 20-day permissive temporary duty assignment and attended the career fair Wednesday as a way to see what jobs he might qualify for when he retires from the Army and moves back to the Seattle area.
Hunt was stationed at JBLM from 2002 to 2006 and again in 2010 to 2012, where he played his saxophone with America’s I Corps Band. He and his wife bought a home nearby and plan to retire here with their four children in November, hoping to find an IT job after retirement.
“I have a background as an electronics technician; I can fix anything,” Hunt said. “I’ve worked in hardware and software, so a computer position is good. I really like helping people with problems, so a help desk job would be great.”
One local facility hiring and with an information table at the career fair was Wilcox Family Farms, in Roy, just beyond JBLM’s East Gate.
Valerie Rogers, an employee at the five-generation family business, said there are many jobs open for both the agricultural and production sides of the farm, where chickens are raised from one-day-old to where eggs and hard-boiled eggs are packaged for sale.
“We’ve got on-call to full-time jobs and night jobs, too,” she said.
Staff Sergeant Chris Sipe, 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, stopped by the West Thurston Regional Fire Authority booth, since he’s a volunteer firefighter and EMT with West Thurston’s Rochester Fire Department.
Sipe, who lives in Spanaway, has medic training through the military. He’s retiring in April after 20 years in the Army. Sipe said he was looking for a job as a paid firefighter, law enforcement personnel or in a managerial position.
“I love volunteering, but I will need something to pay the bills,” he said of why he was checking out his options at the career fair.
Kat Flores, human resources analyst for the city of Tacoma, spent some time enthusiastically promoting positions with her place of employment.
“We are really short staffed,” she said to Staff Sgt. Lucinda Browder, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, who had stopped by Flores’ table. “First, fill out this job interest card, then get your stuff together; but, do it fast, it happens quickly.”
Browder is originally from Chicago but plans to live in Washington state when she retires with 20 years of military experience at the end of this year.
“I’m staying in Washington because they take care of veterans,” Browder said. “There are a lot of opportunities and a better way of life than where I come from.”