By Arthur McQueen, USAG Miami PAOJuly 3, 2008
DORAL, FL -U.S. Army Garrison - Miami has partnered with local groups to bring together more than 1,000 job seekers and 61 employers here at the Miami Dade Fire Fighters Memorial Building for their third annual Free Job Fair.
The response to the June 25 event was more than the garrison, South Florida Workforce and Society of Hispanic Veterans organizers expected. In a room packed with 42 local and 19 out-of-state organizations looking for talent, the crowds made their way, helped by free photocopying, career counseling services and numerous volunteers loaded with information.
"This is one of the best fairs I have ever seen," said Doug Smith, Community Relations manager for ITT Technical Institute. "It's the most organized, reputable - and it's packed with attendees."
The fair attracted about 400 people it's first year, said Joe Pagan, garrison employment assistance manager and event organizer. "Last year we pulled in 650, and now," he nods towards the door, where earlier a line of people stretched around the corner of the building.
The large pool of applicants meant companies could solve multiple position needs in one place at one time.
"We collected at least 60 applications," said Gary D., a recruiter for the Central Intelligence Agency. "It was well worth the effort to come down (from McLean, Va.)"
"We brought a whole staff (to evaluate candidates) - we're looking for information technology skills, analysts, and of course, clandestine officers," he said with a smile. Clandestine officers are those intelligence gatherers who most people think of when they talk about the agency.
"Sure, we leverage the 'X' factor about the agency," Gary said. "There is some truth there, it is a cool job and our customer is the President.
"But we also use these fairs to educate people about what we really do," he said, holding a pamphlet entitled "We'd like to dispel a few myths about working for the CIA."
Gary said the agency likes to hire people with military experience. "They bring leadership and an understanding of what it means to work in a team."
Pagan explained the job fair was originally designed to help veterans and their families, but has expanded to be open to the whole community of South Florida. Planning this event takes considerable time.
"It's been five or six months since I started working with Joe on this," said William Lunt, a local veteran's representative for the SFW. Lunt assisted with advertising, which ranged from radio station spots and E-mail to simple word of mouth.
"This experience - the conjunction of the SFW, the garrison and the SHV - is great," said Ricardo Silva, with the SFW. "The fair is a great boost to the community, vendors have flown in from all over the country and the feedback I am receiving goes from good to exceptional."
"This is one of the better job fairs I have attended," said former recruiter Sgt. 1st Class Rafael Garcia, a congressional affairs specialist. Although not ready to leave the military just yet, he is planning ahead for the transition to a different career.
Pagan was quick to give credit to the members of the Executive Job Fair Committee for their dedication in planning the job fair, and noted that it takes a large number of people coming together to make it work, especially "the volunteers who committed themselves to ensure the success of this event."