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Texas Workforce Solutions brings job fair to Victoria East High School

By Carolina Astrain
Nov. 10, 2012 at 5:10 a.m.

Army recruiter Staff Sgt. Jonathan Raymond challenges students to think about their futures and to begin the process of evaluating careers.

WANT TO FIND WORK?

• WHAT: Communities in the Schools

• WHO: Ellen Vallejos, Victoria East High School site coordinator

• HOW: Contact her at ellen.vallejos@visd.net or 361-788-2820

It was hard to see through the blindfold as her mother guided her to her 2001 red Mustang.

"I was speechless," Cristina Creager, 17, said. "My eyes watered up."

What the Victoria East High School junior didn't anticipate with her September birthday present were the costs behind her new car outfitted with shiny, black rims.

On Nov. 1, about 14 vendor booths were setup around the Victoria East library to help students like Cristina find jobs.

Area employers spoke to juniors and seniors about jobs that would be able to fit around their academic schedules.

With her newly gained insurance, gas and maintenance costs, Creager said, she wouldn't mind a part-time gig.

"I want to pay for my own insurance," Creager said. "It's a lot of money because it's a red Mustang."

This was the school's first time partnering with Texas Workforce Solutions to host the fair, Go Center coordinator Debra Jaime said.

Communities in the Schools, a TWS program that promotes flexible work schedules for students, is coordinated at Victoria East by Ellen Vallejo.

Vallejo and Jaime asked at least 40 different businesses to come talk to students about potential job opportunities, Vallejo said.

The coordinators were able to wrangle about 14 booths for the event.

"A lot of them couldn't spare the staff with the holidays coming up," Vallejo said. "I'm here to help any at-risk students. I have about 75 in my caseload this year so far."

Students bounced back and forth between the booths at the fair.

The familiar logos from area companies greeted their potential employees as students bravely stepped up to their booths with inquiring eyes.

Human Resources specialist Erica Vermillion, was at the fair representing the City of Victoria.

"We want people that live here to work here," Vermillion said. "They should give back and build the city."

Vermillion had a few positions available at the fair, including positions as a maintenance worker for the parks department, community leadership opportunities and internships with the fire and police departments.

Pay for an entry-level position with the city of Victoria starts at $9.38, with 20 to 40 hours per week, said Vermillion.

"We have several events that need workers on the weekend," Vermillion said. "Someone has to breakdown and setup."

Nearby, Army recruiter Staff Sgt. John Raymond, 31, tried his best to convince three high school girls to join the armed forces.

Raymond said high school juniors could join the military as early as the summer before their senior year.

A junior-classman recruit could do basic training during the summer and return to school for their senior year as a private first-class.

Upon signing up, a student could receive between $1,300 to $1,700, before shipping off for basic training, said Raymond.

TJMaxx had a booth in the far right-hand corner of the room.

Store manager Pam Harrison said the business was looking for up to 10 temporary, part-time recruits for the holiday season.

"We're really flexible," Harrison said. "I have a girl that only works on Sunday."

The clothing store representatives said they ran out of applications hours before the fair had ended.

Senior Lisa Garcia, 17, said she has a friend who works in Seadrift after school.

"He works in the oil fields," Garcia said. "Sometimes he doesn't make it back to school the next day because the drive just kills him."

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