Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina’s Fourth Annual Youth Job Fair was well-attended.
Held Thursday, May 22 at Goodwill headquarters on University Parkway, the job fair drew a steady stream of 16-through 21-year-olds. More than 150 of them filed through during the first hour, more than the total number who attended last year’s event, according to Goodwill Youth Programs Manager Lakisha Jordan.
Several employers were on hand to accept applications. They included Bojangles, clothing store Aéropostale and Food Loin, which, based on the long line of job-seekers, was the most popular choice. Colleges like Winston-Salem State University, Mount Eagle College, Salem College and Bennett College also set up shop, taking the opportunity to tout the benefits of higher education.
Though applicants of any age are welcome to apply for the open positions at the companies, the special job fair lets young people apply for positions without competing with older, more experienced jobseekers, Jordan said.
“We saw there was a need because youth are competing with so many adults in trying to find employment … When the summer comes around, we have this influx of youth coming to us asking ‘Do you have any jobs?’” she said. “Well, we don’t have any jobs just to handout, so we wanted to get with the community and figure out how can we provide support for youth where they don’t have to compete with the adult population.”
Brent Scoff, the assistant manager at the local Aéropostale, was impressed by the quality of the jobseekers and anxious to hold interviews to fill the store’s part-time positions.
“This is fantastic; I was not expecting this turn out. I even ran out of applications already, and I’m having to send kids to the store to come meet me,” he said.
Pam Backi, operations manager at the local TJ Maxx, said the retail apparel store took in more than 100 applications for its 15 open part-time positions during the job fair. She said while the store gets a steady stream of applications both online and in person, there is an added advantage to job fairs.
“This is a great opportunity to get the most bang for our buck,” she said. “We got a lot of people coming through, and we can get a lot of applications and actually see them face-to-face; so before they come in we’re really going to know who we are talking to.”
Jonathan Woodruff, 20, would love to receive a call from Backi, Scoff or the other managers on hand at the job fair. The North Carolina Central University rising senior said finding a job is difficult. He has sought summer and seasonal work since beginning college, but his search has been unavailing.
“I’ve been putting in applications every where I can like crazy,” said Woodruff, a psychology major who plans to enter law school. “I call everywhere I put applications in at least a week after … to see if there’s any interest, and I keep calling. So far i haven’t had any luck.”
Twenty-year-old Calvin Livingston was confident that he would soon land a job. He gave up his job at a Charlotte restaurant when he moved to Winston-Salem two months ago. He’s already put in several applications around town and is sure a job offer will come any day now.
“It’s all about how hard you look for a job; they won’t come to you,” he said.
For Deonna Covington, 19, it’s not just about finding a job, but finding the right one. The single mother is taking college transfer courses at Forsyth Technical Community College and is hoping to find a second shift job to accommodate her class schedule. She just ended a temporary job as a retail packer. Covington is hopeful that something will soon pan out, after being offered interviews with both The Resource (a job placement service) and Aéropostale.
“It’s hard, especially with school,” she said. “It’s not easy, but you can’t give up.”