Job Fair Experience

Posted: September 17, 2012 in Living job fair by eric.louie job fair, a photo by eric.louie on Flickr.

By Eric Louie

SAN FRANCISCO-“We’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel here.”

I was in downtown San Francisco’s historic Hotel Whitcomb for a Wednesday afternoon job fair when a 28-year-old paralegal made the comment to start a conversation. It was a valid point, after 30 minutes I had seen everything I needed to see. There wasn’t anything wrong with those who showed up to the event, held by It was that there was only about a dozen booths, which after taking away jobs you’re not qualified or interested in, can be disappointing.

I take these general recruiting job fairs for what they’re worth; some experience interviewing, seeing jobs I might not have considered and the chance something comes up. I combined it with other trips including going from San Leandro to Saratoga for a catering job the night before, visiting family in San Francisco and picking up a power cord for a TV that a friend gave me earlier in the week. I like the personal interaction of job fairs, and though a general event can be hit or miss, not working means having nothing to lose. Once I even snuck into a room for gourmet sandwiches provided to the recruiters, and ended up talking to one I had met during the fair. It shows initiative. Additionally, having recently received my first unemployment insurance benefit extension, I have a quota of three job searches a week, and figured this would be good in case nothing else came up.

Walking in I told the greeter I’ve been mostly a newspaper reporter, and after thinking a second she said television station ABC7 might have openings. They didn’t have a booth, but sponsored the event.

The lines were short, just a couple deep if any. The longest was a few dozen waiting for a resume review. Booths included a beauty school, a phone book company and mattresses sales. There was also BART police, the Financial Information System for California (an effort by the state known as the FI$Cal Project to change the way finances are handled) and the National Guard. It turns out I’m too old for the guard, as they’ll only take you between 17 and 35. The recruiter said they used to allow older, but not anymore. Others were only looking for people with sales or information technology backgrounds. I did hear about an upcoming marketing writing job.

The paralegal guy pointed out you could also do better finding openings on craigslist, and the police department is not going to hire someone on the spot. There’s tests to take. It made me think about how there’s other ways to learn about the military, like when a Navy recruiter found me walking home from summer school. He later drove me to the recruiting station where I took a test that said I was apparently officer material. But with main selling points being overseas prostitution and retiring in 20 years, which sounded like an eternity to a 17-year-old, I was even more uninterested.

Just like going to the job fair, however, it was an experience I learned from. The paralegal guy told me about juggling various attorney duties and personalities, to the seasonal nature where it’s important for temps to get in before a lull during the holidays. As many times as I’d been in a courtroom news reporting on some criminal or civil case, I never thought about the hoops those behind the scenes jump through. I also learned the Hotel Whitcomb, on Market Street near Civic Center, was temporarily City Hall from 1912 to 1915 following the 1906 earthquake, according to its Web site. Interesting stuff.


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