Fair welcomes veterans, other job seekers

  • Greenfield resident Steve Ronhave talks with Marcie Zimmerman and Robin Kessler of Judd Wire Inc. at a job fair at Greenfield Community College on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Gretchen Tucker fills out an application at a job fair at Greenfield Community College on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A job fair was held at Greenfield Community College on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A job fair geared toward military veterans was held at Greenfield Community College on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/8/2019 11:18:41 PM
Modified: 11/8/2019 11:18:26 PM

GREENFIELD — They came from across the county and beyond to look for jobs.

About 50 people visited 45 employers and vendors at the MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center job fair early Thursday morning in the dining commons at Greenfield Community College.

Representatives from social services, banks, recreational businesses, colleges, manufacturers, health care institutions and more discussed with veterans and others what they were looking for and asked the same of them.

“We want to get as many veterans and other job seekers as possible going through and talking with the 45 employers we have here today,” said Mike Anderson, veterans employment representative for MassHire. “We tried to make sure most of the employers are on public transportation routes.”

Anderson said most veterans arrived when the job fair started at 9:30 a.m. Then, others were welcome, including GCC students.

“It was very successful last year, its first year,” Anderson said. “We had about 50 to 60 come through last year. We hope we’ll see around 150 people come through this year.”

Anderson said he isn’t sure how many people got jobs from talking with employers at the job fair, but said he did know of one homeless veteran who not only found a part-time job, but housing, as well.

“It’s not just about finding a job,” he said. “People get to network here, and that leads to all sorts of things.”

Anderson said he encourages people to talk with every employer because, “You never know.”

MassHire not only helps people with job searches and sponsors job fairs, he said, but helps with resume writing, offers workshops, and provides unemployment assistance and referral services.

“I’m available to the industry right now,” said 71-year-old Greenfield resident Steve Ronhave.

Ronhave, a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam era, said he has a “few applications pending” but wanted to see what was available at the job fair. Ronhave spent more than an hour visiting different vendors, carrying a folder with all of their information.

He said he returned to school at GCC when he was 65 after working for many years in the food industry. He graduated from its Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency program. Since then, he said he has worked at some short-term jobs in energy efficiency.

“I’m here mostly to network,” he said. “I’ve been working with MassHire and its veterans advisor. The entire staff is so helpful. And I feel like today I’m interviewing potential employers just like they would interview me.”

Gretchen Tucker, a classically trained soprano who has been working in human resources for the past few years, said she got laid off from her most recent job and is looking for work.

Tucker, 35, said she talked with every employer at the job fair and during the last half-hour was filling out a few applications.

“I’ve always worked in this area,” she said. “I actually worked the job fair last year as an employer. As a human resources professional, I’ve worked eight to 10 job fairs. It feels funny being on the other side of it, now, but I know the questions to ask because of my experience.”

She said as a job seeker, she knows that she has to market and promote herself.

“When I find something I’m interested in, I start a dialogue with the person,” she said. “There has to be a lot of back and forth.”

Mike Cornelius, operations manager at Hillside Plastics Inc. in Turners Falls, a custom plastic packaging manufacturer that employs 145 people, said he was at the job fair looking for people with industrial experience who were interested in manufacturing.

“We start by chatting with someone, and then sometimes it moves on to a more serious conversation,” he said. “We ended up with a few candidates last year, and we’re hoping to have a few more candidates with the skills we’re looking for this year.”

Reach Anita Fritz at
413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.

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