UNM-LA job fair attracts people looking for a piece of the American dream

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By Tris DeRoma

Over 100 people attended the annual University of New Mexico-Los Alamos job fair, an event that attracts more and more visitors each year.
“It’s become an annual event and we were able to get our press to the media quickly this year,” UNM-LA Student Advisor Grace Willerton said.
Willerton has been organizing the job fair for three to four years, but the job fair was actually started several years before that through a grant by another organizer. Willerton was happy to take up the mantle.
“When I took over that program, I really felt like it was valuable to continue that just for our student’s experience just to understand how to approach employers before they graduate,” Willerton said.
Isabella Stevens, 16, was one of those people. She came to the fair looking for something that would fit with her schedule.
“I don’t know yet… maybe something with the county or something like that,” she said.
The job fair is also one of the ways UNM-LA connects with the community while adding to its own value as a community member.
“There’s a lot of people looking for part-time workers, student employees, this is a really nice way to bridge those,” Willerton said.
Other people that came to the fair were looking for a way back to the life they once knew.
Kelvin Zidenga was an electrician in his former country of Zimbabwe. To him, the job fair was an opportunity to pick up where he left off. Even though he’s not certified to work as an electrician in the U.S., that a job he finds here will help finance his plan to get recertified for the life and job he left behind in Zimbabwe.
“If I can get a part-time job here, then people like me can start again,” Zidenga said. “This job fair is a very good.”
The federal job freeze hasn’t seemed to slow down the National Park Service as Human Resources Specialist Kim Carrasco was there with others from the park service looking to hire.
“We can’t hire any permanent folks, but we’ve hired our seasonals, so hopefully soon, we will have the hiring freeze lifted and we will be able to advertise for our permanent positions,” Carrasco said.
Applicants are told to keep checking the National Bandelier Monument website to see what positions are open. So far, they’ve hired guides for the season and firefighters, positions not affected by the federal hiring freeze. Fee collectors, interpretation guides, and firefighters are not affected by the freeze because of either their part-time nature or vitalness to the operation of the nation’s national parks.
Gillian Sutton, co-manager of KRSN Radio, has jobs perfect for those getting back into the swing of things, or for those who want to embark on a career in radio.
“Our asset is that we’re really flexible,” Sutton said. “You might be a mom looking to reenter the workforce, but you want to go home to the kids. You can come to work after your kids are at school. You can apply that to a student. You need time 8-10 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, we can work around that. You can have an entertaining job that works around your other priorities.”
At least 22 organizations took part in the job fair. Those organizations included the National Park Service, KRSN 1490 AM and 107.1 FM, Pet Pangaea, Los Alamos National Bank,  UNM-LA, Buffalo Thunder Resort and others.