LANCASTER – About 2,000 students and local job seekers from around the area attended the Antelope Valley College Fall Career Information and Job Fair on Wednesday, checking out opportunities from a diverse assembly of employers.
The college’s 21st semiannual job fair, considered the largest employment event in the Antelope Valley, played host to about 94 companies and organizations that covered industries from health care to education, technology and public safety.
Wilda Wallace, a job placement specialist at AV College’s Job Placement Center, said the career fair’s greatest asset is connecting local job seekers with as many available employers in a single place.
“A lot of people are looking for employment, but many have transportation issues,” said Wallace, who coordinated Wednesday’s job fair. “So here you have a large group of employers in a single place, and job seekers don’t have to run all over the valley. An event like this just brings people together – all for a common cause.”
Wallace said Chick-fil-A was probably the one employer seeking the most positions to fill. The restaurant is opening in Palmdale in October, and is seeking about 80 employees for various positions, according to Wallace.
“Chick-fil-A contacted us to participate, and they need people for the kitchen and servers for the dining room,” she told The AV Times.
A sense of service, whether commercial or civic, was the apparent theme of Wednesday’s job fair.
Jikky Thankachan, a coordinator for the Lancaster Mayor’s Health & Wellness Council, said her team received a “lot of interest” in their intern program, ABC for Fitness, which increases physical activity and provides nutrition education for local elementary school students.
“The intern will be tutoring the kids to greatly impact the community,” she said. “We have a high rate of child obesity in the community, and this program is just one way to address this health disparity at a young age.”
Though the positions are unpaid, Thankachan said interns will gain experience working with school children and providing students with one-on-one academic help. For more information, or to apply, email the Mayor’s Health & Wellness Council at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 661-723-5839, or visit the website at www.healthylancasterca.org.
Antelope Valley Transit Authority continues to expand their opportunities for employment, especially with its recent financial infusion of a $24.4 million grant that was awarded by CalSTA (California State Transportation Agency) to convert the Authority’s diesel bus fleet to 100 percent electric by summer 2016.
“We always need bus operators, we always need people in the dispatch side, but it’s not just about driving the buses: we have positions in administration, customer service and marketing,” said Kelly Miller, community outreach specialist for AVTA.
Miller said that AVTA contracts with Transdev to operate their buses and perform dispatch services, and that available career opportunities are listed for both companies on their website at www.AVTA.com.
“There’s a tremendous amount of interest in the transportation industry,” Miller said at the job fair. “There is a lot of growth potential, and we’re really on the edge of something exciting as we get ready to convert all our existing buses to 100 percent electric.”
An organization receiving much interest at the job fair was the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).
According to Investigator David Duran, ABC agents “physically regulate the alcohol industry” as sworn law enforcement personnel, follow up on complaints of drug activities at businesses, and even work big events, like the Coachella Valley Music Festival, to prevent minors from accessing alcohol.
“We’ve been getting a lot of interest here at the fair,” Agent Duran said. “And I let people know about meeting our minimum requirements.”
Candidates for consideration must be 21 years of age and have 60 college units or work experience in the military or other law enforcement agency, and then the real process begins.
“With every government agency you have to pass a test,” Duran said. “You pass the test, you get interviewed, you get a background check, then psychological testing, pass the lie-detector section – it’s very encompassing. And once we give you a job offer, then you have to go through our academy.”
More information on becoming an ABC agent can be found at www.ABC.ca.gov. Interested persons may also email their questions to email@example.com or call 916-419-2582.
Applicants were just as interested to learn more about California State Park Ranger and Lifeguard opportunities at the fair. Supervisor Ranger Matt Williams and Interpreter Jean Ryne said they talked to about 150 people about State Park careers, while collecting about 75 signatures requesting more information.
“It’s just been nonstop with people coming up and talking to us,” said Ryne, who explained that State Park rangers and lifeguards are trained peace officers that help operate and manage parks, while performing such duties as interpreting natural, historic and cultural resources; and who can perform first aid, cliff rescues or underwater diving.
Park ranger and lifeguard requirements include at least 60 accredited college units, excellent physical condition, pass a comprehensive background investigation, and attend an academy program.
Ryne said they were also promoting a volunteer program, where she actually got her start with State Parks about 18 years ago.
“I began my career with State Parks by volunteering, and a lot of people don’t realize that you can get started by volunteering first – kind of feeling out the parks, getting to know the system, and all the different activities that we offer,” she said.
Volunteer opportunities with State Parks includes being a campground or park host, helping to operate a visitor center, conducting tours and explaining park history, or even helping to build and maintain trails.
For California State Park volunteer opportunities, call 1-800-777-0369 or visit www.parks.ca.gov. To receive more information on park ranger and lifeguard opportunities, contact personnel services/recruitment at 916-653-9685.
Other job seekers at the fair gravitated toward a different outdoor experience with Mountain High Resort, which offered openings in positions such as ski school instructors, guest services, retail, resort safety and snow making.
“We’re expecting a big season, so we’re recruiting extra employees now,” said Tammy Jaqua, the Human Resources Information Systems manager at Mountain High in Wrightwood. “We normally get a lot of candidates from all over the Antelope Valley. We’ll recruit as far as Riverside in the other direction, but we get many people from Lancaster, Littlerock and other areas around here.”
Nancy Estes, who manages the Ski & Snowboard School at Mountain High, said being employed by the resort includes many perks.
“They get a free season pass if they are a full time employee,” Estes said. We have many other perks, such as discounts for the retail shop, and most employees receive training.”
For more information on available career leads and resources, contact the Antelope Valley College’s Job Placement Center at 661-722-6300, ext. 6358.