The Education and Career Fair returned to Fort Jackson after a year of social distancing and COVID-19 restrictions reduced the fair to online meetings or small, restricted attendance events. More than 100 attended the fair held at the Solomon Center Nov. 16.
“We are here with Transition Assistance Program to bring employers and the schools together,” said Jude Marranco, Fort Jackson Education Center’s Chief of Education. “This year is more robust and I think it’s going awesome. Positive feedback so far.”
“We have 40 education and 45 employers here today,” said Carolyn Andrews, Transition Services manager.
Local and national universities offered information to active-duty or transitioning Soldiers and their Families, in addition to civilians, about obtaining a degree in-person or online utilizing scholarship programs, Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and in some cases reduced or waived administration fees and test scores for qualifying service members looking to begin their college degree or transfer from another university.
Employers from local to national agencies set up tables with contact information gave attendees an opportunity to explore career options after completion of military service as well as on the spot hiring opportunities.
“We are here to recruit some great Soldiers and veterans to become FBI professionals,” said Special Agent Carl Cuneo, Federal Bureau of Investigations Columbia, South Carolina Field Office. “We hire for numerous positions around the country.”
The agents said the hiring process to become an FBI professional can take 10 or more months to complete, offering transitioning Soldiers an opportunity to apply for positions in fields such as operations and intelligence, business and administration, finance and accounting, and STEM while on active-duty.
“I’m getting out within a year,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Boucher, a drill sergeant who recently came off the trail and is currently assigned to the 193rd Infantry Brigade. “I want to expand my horizons a little bit. Events like this will point me in the right direction and but also send me down the right path. I think this is a great way to pave the road forward.”
Boucher also scouted the various universities represented to begin the process of enrolling and utilizing the education benefits he earned during his military service.
Some employers such as the City of Orangeburg, Department of Public Safety offer veterans and their Families an opportunity gain employment where they provide the training needed to become certified in.
“We do both law enforcement and firefighting,” said Lauren Riddle, Recruitment Officer for the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety. “Right now we are looking for public safety officers and fire engineers. We will hire you uncertified for our law enforcement positions. We will train you and send you to the police academy, we will give you all the training you need to become a certified law enforcement officer in the state of South Carolina.”
Additional local employers were looking to fill positions within their organization immediately and offered employment offers during the fair. These employers were attractive prospects to military Family members seeking employment after moving to the installation with their service member.
“We coordinate with employers and educational institutions to connect them to service members and their Family members who are actively seeking employment,” said Al Taylor, Veterans Employment Coordinator with the South Carolina Veterans Affairs Office. “We are helping them get better jobs.”
Throughout the months of planning for the Career Fair, coordinators thought the event was a success.
“We give three or four of these events per year,” Andrews said. “The Soldiers are building relationships and these are the employers that want that relationship and see the value of that to our Soldiers.”
According to Andrews, as COVID-19 restrictions and infection rates continue to fall, more joint career and education fairs will be offered to Soldiers, civilians and their Family members more frequently in the future.