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Spouse Employment Center

Outdoor hiring event successfully connects jobseekers with employers

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  • 4 min to read

Marielyn Vitoriano went to the Open Air Job Fair, Oct. 21, hosted by Fort Campbell’s Spouse Employment Center, or SEC, hoping to find job leads.

“She’s coming in for an interview on Monday and she has the perfect personality, so we are going to push to get her a position ASAP,” said Anna James, human resources assistant for Nia Association, one of the employers at the job fair.

Nia Association is a Clarksville nonprofit organization that provides services to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities throughout Middle Tennessee.

About 20 companies participated in the job fair just outside of the SEC, along with a number of partner agencies including the Career Skills Program, Wounded Warrior Project, USO Pathfinder and Campbell Strong Workforce Partnership.

Although social distancing and face masks were required to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 at the job fair, Vitoriano’s personality showed, James said.

“She’s just so sweet and bubbly and friendly and you can see the smile through the mask,” James said. “I love that too.”

Face-to-face meetings

Face masks have joined professional resumes and business attire as a necessary job fair tool, or anywhere people gather, as COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The Open Air Job Fair was designed to provide spouses, veterans, transitioning Soldiers and other Family members with a chance to meet employers who have jobs in a safe manner, said Duane Soumis, SEC manager and Soldier For Life-Transition Assistance Program transition services manager.

“I think it was very effective with the spacing we did, and the key to this was we had the right employers who came here with a lot of local jobs,” Soumis said.

The SEC, 5668 Wickham Ave., connects military spouses with resources to find careers, education or skills training and a support network while they job hunt.

The was the first job fair Kashia Campbell attended, she hopes the time spent there pays off.

“I found some really interesting ones that I’m going to go home and apply immediately for,” said Campbell, who liked the options she found.

Beverly Fort, a recruiter for Christian County Public Schools System, was anxious to talk to those who stopped by her table in the center of the parking lot between the SEC and SFL-TAP.

“We’re excited to be able to network and connect with Fort Campbell and those who are transitioning or spouses just moving here,” Fort said. “We have teaching positions, we have guidance counselor and are looking for bus drivers. We also have other assistant type positions.”

Changing methods

Colonel Jeremy D. Bell, garrison commander, stopped by the job fair to speak with employers and see how things were working out with COVID-19 precautions in place.

“We’ve had to change how we do business, so I just wanted to come see how things are running,” Bell said. “The idea is I don’t ever want to stop the services we are providing. I want to change how we provide that service.”

He wanted the SEC staff to find a format that could safely accommodate participants, said Bell, who was impressed with the job fair.

“I can’t emphasize how good of a program we have at Fort Campbell,” he said. “We are recognized on the installation side globally for what we do, and that’s largely because of the people who we have, the connections we have with the community, and the Department of Labor grant that no other installation has and just the great people who support the Spouse Employment Center.”

Patrice Hamilton, employment services counselor at SEC, said the event was a success for employers, job seekers and partner agencies that work to get spouses employment.

“We couldn’t ask for better weather,” Hamilton said, while mingling under a sunny sky. “We haven’t seen as much foot traffic as we would have liked, but the employers are excited to be here to at least have an opportunity to show their brand. Every employer that is here has opportunities, jobs they are offering. We’ve seen some spouses and service members who are transitioning actually get on-the-spot interviews and also job opportunities have been offered to them.”

For those who missed the job fair, the SEC staff is available by appointment to help spouses with resumes, interview techniques and networking, she said. The staff also can often match prospects with companies who are looking for workers because they know about available positions.

The SEC staff is working on innovative ways to continue offering job fairs while the COVID-19 persists, Hamilton said.

Although the job fair was not crowded, Soumis said, it was a good chance to have employers and jobseekers meet without it being overwhelming.

“It seems those who came were really looking for employment, not just stopping to see what’s going on,” he said. “One of the employers mentioned to me she just had three contacts. All three fit exactly what she was looking for. So for her this was the most valuable thing because she’s gone to other job fairs and maybe talked to 40 or 50 people and not come out of there with one. So, for the targeted group it worked perfectly.”

Lindsay Hermann left her previous job when her husband was reassigned to Fort Campbell. She attended the job fair to see what is available.

“I need to connect with employers so this is a great way to figure out who is hiring, what they are looking for and get your name, face and resume out there, so they know you’re out there looking as well,” Hermann said.

Teresa English said the job fair also provided Fort Campbell agencies a way to show how they can help jobseekers.

“I think it was an awesome event,” English said. “When you bring together wonderful partners and everyone has the same goal, to help Soldiers, to help spouses, it’s a win-win,” English said. “It’s a beautiful day, everyone came together and the customers got excellent customer service and got what they came here for. It was a successful event, so I look forward to doing more in the future.”

INFO BOX 

Spouse Employment Center 

The Fort Campbell Spouse Employment Center, 5668 Wickham Ave., is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. To make an appointment, call 270-412-1720. Messages also can be emailed to Holly Nusom at holly.r.nusom.civ@mail.mil or sent to the Fort Campbell Spouse Employment Center Facebook page.