Jordyn Saper of Naperville says her dad "kind of dragged" her to the KidsMatter Student Job Fair last year.
He told her she needed to get a job, so she should "just go" to the annual event that helps connect Naperville-area high school and college students with employment they can maintain while in school.
If You GoWhat: Student Job Fair
When: 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 26
Where: North Central College Residence Hall/Recreation Center, 440 S. Brainard St., Naperville
Who: Hosted by KidsMatter with 45 employers
Info: kidsmatter2us.org or (630) 527-6562
Saper, then a junior at Benet Academy in Lisle, arrived at the fair empty-handed, but still was able to chat with a handful of potential employers and fill out applications at several booths in hopes of landing her first job other than baby-sitting.
"I really only got called back by one job, but I accepted it and it worked out well," Saper, 18, said about her employment as a waitress at Monarch Landing retirement living community in Naperville.
This year's Student Job Fair is scheduled for 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at the North Central College Residence Hall/Recreation Center, 440 S. Brainard St., Naperville. And while it took her dad's prodding for Saper to attend the fair last year, she said she now would recommend it to other teens and young adults looking for work.
The 11th annual fair promises a couple more employers than the 43 companies Saper had to choose from last year, said Bridget Hatch, marketing and events manager for KidsMatter, a Naperville-based nonprofit group that is organizing the event.
Representatives of 45 companies will be accepting applications during the fair, most of them offering part-time work that can fit around a student schedule and many of them, such as Jewel Ocso, Panda Express and Panera Bread, offering opportunities at multiple store locations.
"We want to connect every kid who's looking for a job with the potential to have a job," Hatch said.
No resume is necessary to apply at the job fair, but Hatch said she recommends students bring a solid handshake and a clear speaking voice. Her other advice to jobseekers: Don't forget to tell employers "what makes you special."
"It doesn't hurt to come and get the opportunity to talk with employers and see what it is they're looking for," Hatch said. "In addition to being a one-stop shop to meet with employers, it's also a great opportunity for kids to prepare for all job interviews going forward."
Aside from booths of employers offering jobs and internships, the free employment event includes a mock interview station and advice on resume-building and online networking. Saper said she had a positive experience last year with the mock interview station, which is staffed by volunteer Naperville-area business people.
"They pointed out apparently I talk very fast," Saper said. "They told me to slow it down and I kept that in mind."