Thousands Turn Out For Youth Job Fair In Columbus

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A couple of thousand young job-seekers showed up for a job fair at COSI on Wednesday.(Photo: Tom Borgerding)
A couple of thousand young job-seekers showed up for a job fair at COSI on Wednesday.(Photo: Tom Borgerding)

A couple of thousand young job-seekers showed up for a job fair at COSI on Wednesday. Mayor Michael Coleman helped recruit employers to the fair after the federal government cut funds for its summer jobs program. The students and young adults turned out in droves for a chance to work.

When 17-yea- old Alleesha Cremeans arrived at COSI about a half-hour after the start of the job fair she confronted the day’s first challenge. She was at the end of two lines, both about a block long.

“I was expecting a hundred or so, and looking out, wow, way more people than I expected.”

Cremeans was looking at an estimated 2,000 students and young adults, dressed professionally with folders of resumes in hand. They were waiting to enter the exhibition space. The West High School junior said she learned of the job fair through her grandmother.

“Uh, the newspaper. My grandmother read an article and told me I was going. So, I was pretty much going.”

Deshaune Stewart was closer to the front of the line. Dressed in a suit and tie, he said he was actually looking for two jobs.

“To get money for my family.”

Stewart allowed he was a bit nervous. He’s been looking for a job for six months and he was trying to anticipate what employers wanted.

“I think they expect confidence. I think they expect for people to look nice and I think they expect good workers.”

Stewart and others who had been searching for jobs for some months were also looking forward to meeting potential employers face-to-face and at least get a short interview and a chance to personally hand a resume to a company representative. Inside the COSI exhibit hall, 42 companies, both profit and non-profit, were prepared to make a combined 2100 job offers. Dan Olzak represents Jani-King. His company has the contract to clean Crew stadium after soccer games and concerts.

“We actually need a total of 230 people to take in for the large concert events and the pay range is $8 an hour.”

Olzak says his company has been inundated with phone calls and applications for the past three-and-a-half weeks. He says he’s not surprised by the large turn-out of job applicants. “Its very difficult for people to find something right now. ”

Brendan Kent was recruiting young employees to help distribute and install energy saving kits to Central Ohio residents. Kent says his 4-year-old Michigan-based company is a contractor for American Electric Power. He says the company is looking for both seasonal and permanent workers.

“We’re going to have a $12- to $14-an-hour pay range, on average, for people starting out. There’s a lot of opportunity for upward mobility and it is going to be an ongoing job.”

Vicki Johnson was also looking for new hires. She is a recruiter for Gap Inc. and needs more employees for a call center in Grove City.

“The call center will be hiring all the way through the summer. We’re looking for the most part, customer service representatives. So it would be entry level customer service, very, very good jobs for our young people.”

Many of the job applicants received coaching help and job readiness training through the Central Ohio Workforce Investment Corporation. COWIC, along with civic and business leaders helped fill the need for summer employment for youth. In the past, funding for summer jobs was provided, in part, by the federal government. No federal money was available this year.

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