Fort Cavazos TAP hosts annual Mega Career Fair

By Derika Upshaw, Fort Cavazos Public AffairsJune 20, 2024

A crowd of people look, stop and walk between rows of booths in a large indoor room.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Each room in the Lone Star Conference Center at Fort Cavazos, Texas, bustles with organizations and job seekers June 11, 2024, at the Mega Career Fair. More than 200 organizations were represented at the fair to support job seekers or looking to hire them. (Photo Credit: Photo by Derika Upshaw, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
A man and a woman stand looking on at papers in the man's hands.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Dave Lankin, national program manager for Still Serving Veterans, and Olmiche Vital, Navy veteran from Austin, Texas, speaks during the Mega Career Fair June 11, 2024, at the Lone Star Conference Center at Fort Cavazos, Texas. The fair brought over 3 million job opportunities for attendees. (Photo Credit: Photo by Derika Upshaw, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas Potential jobs were not in short supply for transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses and those in the local community thanks to the Transition Assistance Program’s Mega Career Fair June 11 at the Lone Star Conference Center.

The Mega Career Fair is held twice a year in January and June. This year over 180 companies and more than 20 support organizations participated in the fair, bringing over 3 million job opportunities for attendees. Jerry Hernandez, the transitions services specialist marketing manager for TAP, said if they had a bigger venue, they would have accepted more companies.

“There are a bunch of law enforcement, transportation, first responders, … engineering (and) logistics,” Hernandez said. “I even have some organizations if you want to be a professional diver through here. Teachers for Killeen ISD (Independent School District), or Hutto ISD, are hiring too.”

Having so many companies available gave many attendees the ability to broaden their horizons or see different avenues in applying their skill sets. Shatori Gamble retired from the military in February working in information technology, or IT. She currently has a job but is looking to continue her career in IT, and attending today helped her open her mind to different opportunities.

“Basically, (the fair) just broadened my horizon to see more of what’s out there to do because a lot of times, I notice with other people too, you limit yourself with different things but specifically with jobs and where you’re going to work in your career,” Gamble said. “You look at your past experiences and everything, and you’re like, ‘Well, I can only do this because this is the only experience I have.’ But, truth be told, a lot of people, here especially, they’re looking for people that they can train and build up to work for them.”

The numerous opportunities were not only beneficial to the attendees of the fair but also the companies. Hundreds of people attended the event, with many organizations and companies hoping to find quality individuals.

“Often, we go to career fairs that only have a few hundred people come through, and with two or three of us at the table we’ll talk to 80 people or so in a four-hour job fair, and in the first hour and a half here, we had already ticked off 75 people so it’s very productive for us,” said David Larkin, national program manager for Still Serving Veterans, a nonprofit organization that assists veterans with career opportunities headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama.

Many companies also expressed the sentiment all transitioning Soldiers and veterans should still send out their resumes for companies they are interested in whether they believe they have the experience or not.

“… I think their skill sets transitioned to a lot of positions, and they have a lot of growth opportunities,” said Lisa Stevens, senior human resource manager for Graphics Packaging in Waco, Texas. “And so, they should really explore all the different industries and see what fits best with what they like to do and what they’ve done.”

Stevens went on to say what most companies want from job seekers are the skills the military community already possess, which are their aptitude, attitude and dedication.

Family members of Soldiers also made their way to the career fair to see what their next career move might hold for them.

“I’m trying to go heavy duty with heavy equipment, construction, all that type of stuff,” said Blanca Matel, a mother of a transitioning Soldier who has settled down in the area with her daughter. “I really want more hands on. So, this is my time to focus on me, and this is what I want to do. So, if I’m able to get into a good company that actually trains me and gets me the opportunity to learn the equipment and move forward, then that’s what I’m here looking for.”

Matel had already found at least three companies that would be a good fit for what she was looking for in a company and knew there were about 15 construction-type companies at the fair.

Though the career fair is over, it does not mean job seekers are finished with their part on making the fair a success.

“Be persistent,” said Koonce Wayne, recruiting manager for InspiriTec, a call center in Philadelphia. “Follow up and get a good job. Job fairs are great, right? You get to talk to a lot of people, but you still need the one-on-one personal conversations to find out what the person is truly looking for and if you could be a fit for them. So doing follow up after the job fairs are very important for you to help find the right candidate and help the candidate find the right job.”

The next career fair is slated for November hosted by the Texas Veterans Commission. For information on companies that were represented at the fair, contact the Fort Cavazos TAP team at 254-288-2227.