Job seekers had a fantastic opportunity as 28 area businesses put forth their needs and wants for potential employees.

The fourth annual Spring Job Fair was deemed a huge success by the Walker and Hackensack businesses that attended, new hirees, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley students, faculty and the Leech Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Considering Minnesota’s low unemployment rate, there still were more than 80 students and 70 adults who attended the April 2 job fair. A total of 28 local businesses and four area colleges were recruiting for both employment and higher educational opportunities.

The first wave of attendees consisted of seventh- and eighth-grade students. Although most were too young to be hired at this job fair, the experience gave them their first look and feel of meeting an owner or manager and actually discussing what positions are or will be available.

Students came prepared, as WHA business teacher Laura Scanlon coached them on proper dress and conduct for a job interview. She also had the students type up a resume to hand to business owners or managers before an interview.

The businesses appreciated this opportunity as these students can now think of local opportunities awaiting them.

The second wave was the ninth- through 12th-grade students, who were equally prepared as Scanlon had worked with them at a higher level on their interview skills. The students who attended were well-behaved and quite an impressive group of our youth. Many businesses said it was the best part of their day to interact with these students.

We want to thank Scanlon for her efforts in preparing the students who attended the job fair. They were ready with resumes in hand, and each had a goal to meet while visiting the businesses. Scanlon’s work helped to make the job fair successful and her preparation of the students was outstanding and truly commendable.

A big thank you also to Ryan Jensen, high school principal, and the school’s participation in the job fair. We appreciate Mr. Jensen for all he did to make the event successful. His attendance at our planning meetings was appreciated, his knowledge of the ins and outs of the school, the students and the calendar of activities was a huge help.

The third wave was composed of adults who were greeted by job coaches offering help where and when needed and directing them to a business with a position of interest. The one-stop shopping aspect for a job was well received by all parties. Several people were hired that day and many appointments for job interviews were set.

The changes and improvements from 2018 to 2019 were immeasurable. One volunteer said later that evening, “After spending time with these kids today, I am feeling pretty good about our future!”

The venue was the WHA High School gymnasium where each business or college had individual cubes with pipe and drape, an 8-foot table and chairs. Private areas were provided for filling out applications or discussions  and interviews.

Job Fair sponsored helped keep the entry fee for businesses to a minimum while still allowing for an aggressive advertising campaign. The sponsors are First National Bank North, Bank Forward, Arvig, Leech Lake Gaming, NEI bottling, and Walker Rotary.

A volunteer workforce, along with the Chamber of Commerce organized the event.

A special thanks to Cindy Wannarka and Roxie Parks from the Leech Lake Area Chamber, Bev Warren  from Rural Minnesota CEP, and volunteers Dee and Ed Oliver, Duane Foss, Ryan Jensen, Laura Scanlon and many high school students who helped with set-up and tear-down.

Cindy Wannarka is president of the Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and Joe Sherman is a Walker Rotarian.

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