Community Connections job fair: Beyond expectations

Posted:  Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 11:00am
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The Boothbay Region High School gym was the scene of a job fair on March 16.

All 225 students from eighth grade through grade 12 were given allotted times to go to the gym to schmooze among the 28 tables set up by local businesses and community organizations.

Community Connections organizers Pauline Dion, Boothbay Sea and Science Center’s president/executive director, Brooke Newberg, BRHS guidance counselor, and George Schimert, Boothbay Harbor Country Club’s executive chef, were the forces behind the event.

“This is the first time this has been done at the school during the time the students are here,” Dion said. “We're appreciative that Principal Dan Welch gave us the opportunity to do this during school time. We're able to reach the audience we want to reach — students.” She said it was a chance for younger students to look at summer jobs and volunteer opportunities, and for older students to begin looking for career paths. “We hope to open doors to opportunity at this event.”

Coast Guard recruiter Gretchen Sanders was there from the Portland recruiting office. “We're looking to recruit 4,500 this year,” she said.

Linekin Bay Resort and Newagen Seaside Inn representatives Alyssa Allen and Tyler Tibbetts were hoping to connect with students looking for jobs as sailing instructors and restaurant workers.

Boothbay Fire Chief Dick Spofford was there looking for junior firefighters. “I've already had a few kids who have shown interest. It's a commitment, and I’m talking to the kids about that.”

Two representatives from Lafayette Hotels were at the fair looking for students who might be interested in working at one of their three Boothbay Harbor businesses: Tugboat Inn, Boothbay Harbor Inn and Fisherman's Wharf. The group owns another 22 businesses throughout Maine and New Hampshire. “If someone came to work for us here in the summer and wanted to continue, they could go to one of our other places that is open year-round,” Ramsey Lafayette said.

Margaret Hoffman was there representing the Boothbay Railway Village. “We're here to talk about museum studies, curatorial work, marketing, non-profit administration and automotive technology,” she said. Hoffman said that there are a lot things that would be of interest to young people. “Things like milling machines and welding. If someone was aspiring to work at a place like Bath Iron Works they could get some on-the-job training with us.” Hoffman said the job fair was great exposure for the organization.

Melissa Cullina, director of education at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, said she was there to make young people aware of the many types of volunteer and paid positions available at the gardens.

Other participants at the fair were the Community Center, Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce, Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club, Healthy Lincoln County, Hannaford, Boothbay Register, Maine Health, Tidal Transit Kayak, Red Cloak Haunted History Tours, First National Bank, Bath Savings Bank, Boothbay Region Land Trust, Boothbay Region Community Resources, Boothbay Region YMCA, Topside Inn, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Boothbay Sea and Science Center, Boothbay Harbor Country Club, Burnt Island, National Guard, Coastal Career Fair and BRCTV – Channel 7.

“Next year the event will be a week-long project,” Dion said. “We're super excited. A job fair will be one portion of it. We'll be set up to teach job application, money management and career path skills.”

Dion said she began thinking about the job fair because she's always been curious about what the local students do during the summer. “I'm committed to helping kids find their way. I spoke to my friend George Schimert, and he had the same concerns.” The two spoke to Newberg and told her they wanted to reach out the students by doing this kind of event. “Then we approached Dan Welch and he embraced it,” she said.

Newberg said she had made a schedule so that every student could attend the fair at some point. “I didn't want to impact academics if I could avoid it. It's the first one, so we can see what changes we'll want to make for next year. Every business and community organization here put a lot of thought into it. They brought displays, they came raring to go, and I'm deeply appreciative that people felt this was so important.”

BRHS College Access Counselor Kerrin Erhard said the school was granted $18,000 by the Melmac Education Foundation http://www.melmacfoundation.org/ for college and career counseling. The grant requires a job career fair.

“I cannot begin to put into words how absolutely wonderful today's event unfolded,” Dion said in an email after the event. “The community came together and the connections were made. The students embraced the contact and the participants embraced the experience. The exchange was magical and the positive energy in the room was palpable. An event that went way beyond my expectations — the beginning of a tradition that will enable dreams to become reality and a sense of place to be called home.”