FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger had words of encouragement for the job-seekers who attended the installation's fifth annual Technical Job Fair on March 16.

"We're here today to try to make sure that the companies that are doing business at Fort Meade and the National Security Agency are able to get quality employees," the Maryland congressman said. "And that's why you're here. They want you; you want them."

Ruppersberger participated in the job fair at Club Meade to discuss the growing demand for qualified employees in the Fort Meade area. As a result of the Base Realignment and Closure process, thousands of new jobs are projected within the I-95 corridor between Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade, Ruppersberger said.

"It was extremely important that Ruppersberger put emphasis on the unemployment situation," said event co-organizer Jerome Duncan, business resource representative and work force specialist for the State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation/Anne Arundel County One Stop Career Center at Fort Meade. "It was great for the event, for the job-seekers and the community that the congressman came out and addressed the crowd."

One new promising career field, said Ruppersberger, who serves on both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Select Committee on Intelligence, is cyber security.

"It's one of the most serious threats to our country, cyber attacks," he said. "So we need to get the best. We need to get people working for the companies who are working with our military and working with NSA."

The event, which drew more than 1,160 job-seekers, featured 84 employers including the NSA, the Defense Information Systems Agency, Northrop Grumman, Howard County Public Schools, the Internal Revenue Service and the University of Maryland University College.

Duncan said the employers sought qualified candidates for 1,200 open positions throughout the Washington-Baltimore metro area, the nation and overseas. Job opportunities ranged from network engineers, intelligence analysts, software developers, web designers and database engineers to human resource specialists, certified teachers, mathematicians, automotive mechanics and administrative assistants.

"I'm looking to get into the federal government," said Freda Riggins, a marketing manager seeking an administrative or executive position. "I came to get out to meet and talk with a lot of people. I want to get my resume in their hand and land an interview with a potential company."

Jodi O'Brien, a recruiter at GRSI, a government contracting company specializing in engineering and information technology, said the job fair is critical to the company's recruiting efforts.

"It's very important," she said. "We're a small minority-owned company -- we want to get our name out there. ... There are a lot of skilled people here. It's just a matter of finding the right match."

Susan Philips, human resource director at NMR consulting, said that although it can be difficult to find candidates with high-level security clearance, her company participates in Fort Meade job fairs because "we do find good and qualified candidates."

Philips said the company's return on its investment is worthwhile. "That's why we keep coming back," she said.

One important component of the job fair was the 14 service members who volunteered to count the number of participants, distribute job fair pamphlets and help with crowd control.

"We couldn't handle this event with just our staff," said Ursula Martin, an administrative assistant at the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, who helped organize the event. "The volunteers contribute significantly."

The Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation, Navy Fleet and Family Support Center, Army Community Service and the Army Career and Alumni Program also contributed to the event.

Jermaine Rather, an Odenton resident who works at a rental car company, said he was impressed with the job fair.

"It's pretty good," said Rather, who had his resume analyzed by career specialists at the event. "The resume review was really helpful. It wasn't a long wait on line like the previous job fair."

Patrick Beben, a Hanover resident who has been unemployed for a month, attended because he has been unsuccessful at applying for jobs online.

"If I run out of resumes here, that would be nice," said Beben, 24, who worked with a technology consulting firm for six months, but was let go because he did not have a current security clearance and the company had trouble acquiring business.

The former consultant said he hopes to land an analyst position in the intelligence field. "I don't really have the experience, just the degree," Beben said. "With all the experienced people, it's hard to compete."

Eric Simmons, an IT specialist in Washington, D.C., said he is fairly confident that his 20 years of experience make him a competitive candidate.

"I'm blessed that I have a job," said the Severn resident as he stood in line at the NSA booth. "I've always been told that the best time to look for a job is when you have one."

Page last updated Fri March 25th, 2011 at 10:06