Grand Rapids Hosts 1st Ever Veterans Career Fair
Grand Rapids reached out to the veterans in their community by hosting a job tailored specifically to them.
The first step is walking through the door. Then, there’s a handshake and an exchange of a resume.
“The veterans career fair is a way for employers to get together as well as the job seekers to network and develop a rapport,” says Amanda Kingsley, who works in employment and training needs for Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency Inc.
The career fair was meant to do more than just find veterans a job: it was meant to find them a job with a purpose.
“Our main goal is to provide jobs that give great benefits, better paying jobs,” says Sharon Voltz, a DNR Yellow Ribbon Committee Representative who helped plan the career fair.
More than 20 agencies from all over the state were at the event today. They were hoping to employ vets with unique skills you’d only find in the armed forces.
“Veterans bring a wide variety of skills – anywhere from basic communication skills, leadership skills, motivating others,” says Corrections Officer Lindsey Foss.
Michael Lee, a Northeast Regional training officer with the DNR Enforcement Division, adds, “They want to be outside. They enjoy those types of roles. That’s what our job is everyday.”
“They do have that understanding of what it means to do ready mobilizations and be prepared,” adds Public Information Officer Christi Powers, who is with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids.
“Responsibility, they know how to work under pressure, under stress. They have a sense of duty,” says Ryan Brubaker, a forester and a veteran himself.
There weren’t just jobs at the career fair. There were also agencies that were made to help veterans by providing them with unique resources.
Diane Gilmore, who is the lead transportation advocate with Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency Inc., says, “We can provide services to help someone finish their GED. Any form of adult-based education to improve skills for employment.”
Kingsley adds, “Helping people develop resumes and finding a potential ‘on-the-job’ training site.”
Jobs fairs like these are more common in other parts of the state. While this was the first one of it’s kind, organizers say there’s a chance there could be another one in the future.
“Statewide, it’s a fantastic initiative to bring about these career fairs and career workshops for veterans and get the interest of those veterans,” says Elyse Anderson, a human resource specialist with the DNR based in St. Paul.
“Being here in Grand Rapids is reaching out to rural Minnesota. In the [Twin] Cities you might see more events like this, but here in rural Minnesota, it’s a little more difficult for veterans to attend,” says Luke St. Germain, the Itasca County Veterans Service officer.
The DNR Yellow Ribbon Committee plans to bring another veterans career fair to Bemidji in the near future.