More than 300 students from the area turned out for the second annual student job fair hosted by the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
“It was a great event,” said chamber president and CEO Randy Collins.
The fair is aimed at high school juniors and seniors, as well as students, who are looking to enter the region’s workforce, whether for long-term employment, summer work or an internship. .
There were 48 vendors on site, with booths set up to give students a taste of what their business and field might look like. It was also an opportunity for employers in the region to connect with potential employees and interns.
Lenise Lynch, general manager of the Hampton Inn in Mount Airy, said her company could definitely use additional staff, especially in housekeeping, front desk, laundry and maintenance services.
She said working with young people fresh out of high school or college is an ideal situation for the hotel and for the potential employee — as she thinks it would be for most companies.
“It’s a chance for a company to be able to help them learn what is expected (of the workforce),” she said, adding that young people in their first or second job are often more easy to mold and train to become a strong employee. .
“We can see them coming out of high school and helping them start a great career,” she said. In her industry, she said it’s possible to start in most positions and progress to management and even ownership.
“I’ve been doing this for 16 years,” she says. Lynch started working at the Hampton Inn as a front desk clerk, and within two years was its general manager, a position she has held ever since.
Collins said that was exactly the idea behind the job fair, to help students learn that there are career opportunities in their hometown.
“We hope students realize that there are well-paying jobs right here in our community,” he said, stable jobs that can be a career.
Staff Sgt. William Arnder of the North Carolina National Guard said Thursday was a good day for him and his colleague working at the job fair.
“We had over 25 people sign up,” he said, referring to students who had given him their contact details and expressed interest in exploring working with the Guard. He said he hoped to see 15 to 20 people signing up with the Guard from Thursday’s event.
Arnder said that most positions within the Guard are essentially part-time positions, with some weekends and summer hours required, but that in addition to the salary someone can earn, the Guard offers also to the troops the possibility of making pay the university.
Anna Johnson and Brenna Belcher with Xtreme! Marketing said there were quite a few people interested in their display.
“A lot of kids are interested in graphic design and digital marketing,” Johnson said, adding that her business is looking to grow with more work ahead than it can do with the current size staff. Several students have left their curriculum vitae or filled in their application.
Teresa Grimm of Hardy Brothers Trucking said her stand attracted many students.
“We had a number of them wanting to be mechanics,” she said. “First, she specifically wanted to be a diesel mechanic.”
While her company could certainly use mechanics, she said her biggest need was for drivers. His company needs the two drivers to run regional runs that typically run two or three runs a week covering a total of 2,000 to 3,000 miles; and long-term drivers from coast to coast. For those going west and back, she said the company generally likes two-person driving teams, and a husband and wife team is often perfect for such races.
Grimm said his company refers students interested in this field to Surry Community College’s truck driving program.
Among the four dozen local businesses with booths set up were Northern Regional Hospital, run by Daniel Combs, who works in staff development and student programs at the hospital, and Vanessa Bottomley, co-ordinator of unit in the emergency department.
Bottomley said the two used a CPR simulator to show the youngsters how to determine if someone needs CPR and how to administer the often life-saving maneuver.
“We probably had 100 kids using it today,” she said.
While most people think of medicine-related jobs when considering a career in a hospital, Combs said he tried to point out to visitors that there were other jobs there.
“We have people in marketing, people who work in the labs, who do x-rays. A young woman said she wasn’t interested in any of those, she wanted to go into accounting. I told him, we also have accountants.
Bottomley pointed out that the job fair may be to show students the job opportunities in Surry County and Mount Airy, it’s also a time for the hospital and other employers to inquire. on a whole new wave of potential workers.
“We have some really good talent here,” she said of people in the community.