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2015 Bastrop Career and Job Fair big success

Bastrop Economic Development Corporation

On May 8 and 9, 2015, many months of planning and hard work by multiple Bastrop organizations culminated in the City’s first ever Bastrop Career and Job Fair. More than 50 employers were onsite offering job opportunities from entry level to top level positions. Post-secondary education organizations also attended, focusing on providing educational programs and classes for high school students and adults alike.Bluebonnet Trails MHMR speaks to a group of students about a career in healthcare.

During Friday’s student day, the Bastrop Convention Center was divided into various areas of interest, and teachers and volunteers guided approximately 1,000 juniors and seniors from Bastrop and Cedar Creek High Schools through the different sections. The day was designed to encourage students to meet face to face with employers to hear about future full and part-time positions and careers. The students also met with many of the post-secondary organizations to see what they had to offer educationally and how it ties into a career choice. Many of the students returned Saturday dressed in business attire and résumés in hand. This was the full circle effect the organizers of the event were hoping to accomplish.

The Bastrop Chamber of Commerce and the community have been working with BISD on closing the gap between students and the workforce with the “We Believe in BISD” initiative, and the Career Fair fit within the scope of that project and fulfilled many needs to provide students with access to job opportunities, or to help guide them to a more specific career path. BISD's Les Hudson added, "This job fair will help create a conduit between the businesses that need employees and the students looking for career opportunities in the Bastrop Area."

Many thanks to the Patent Pending Improv group for their skits that made learning about job interviewing skills fun and fast-paced!The Bastrop High School “Patent Pending Improv” team acted out a series of skits promoting everything job related, from the importance of a good handshake to how to prepare for a job interview. The team rotated a series of about half a dozen skits throughout the day at 15 minute intervals for eight hours, and handled the process as true professionals. Thank you Guillermo DeLeon and Leona DeLeon for working so hard on the skits and allowing the students to spend the day with us.

Many of Bastrop’s service employers set up equipment and vehicles in the outside areas, keeping the students involved and engaged, including a United States Army Humvee, a fire truck from the Bastrop Volunteer Fire Department, a “cherry picker” provided by Bastrop Power & Light, and a police cruiser from the Bastrop Police Department. How could the students not want to ask questions and learn from these men and women who put their lives on the line every day to make sure we are kept safe? The students had a chance to talk to the Bastrop PD and VFD, the U.S. Army, and others services.

Companies like HEB had well over 50 positions to fill. They used their allotted time with the Bastrop and Cedar Creek High School students on Friday to educate them on positions and training they offer within the company. Many students had not realized the potential job growth with a company such as HEB. Walgreens came to the fair with 25 positions to fill from cashiers and pharmacy technicians to managers. They shared a story regarding a young man they hired four years ago who applied at a job fair in Bastrop and has now worked his way up to becoming a store manager in Austin. During the 2015 Bastrop Career and Job Fair they received enough qualified applicants to fill all of their positions before lunch on Saturday. Congratulations! 

This job fair will help create a conduit between the businesses that need employees and the students looking for career opportunities in the Bastrop Area.

HEB said they're currently hiring for 65 positions in 22 departments due to their recent expansion to 100,000 sq ft.

Bastrop City Councilmember Kelly Gilleland was on hand to talk with students, jobseekers and employers. She said, “The single most meaningful moment of this whole experience was being stopped by a woman in the lobby on Saturday, who looked as if she was crying. Thinking she might need help, I approached her to see what was wrong, only to find those were tears of happiness and hope. She said, "I have been out of work for a while, and I can't even afford a computer to look for a job. But today I think my prayers have been answered -- I'm pretty sure I have one job offer coming, and maybe even a second one. Thank you for this job fair." Mrs. Gilleland added a special thank you to the Job Fair Team - The City of Bastrop, BEDC, Bastrop Chamber of Commerce, Bastrop Rotary, Workforce Solutions, and Bastrop ISD - together, we made a difference, and we can all be proud.

Tanya Cantrell with the City's HR Dept said the students were very interested in learning about all the job opportunities available.

The City of Bastrop’s HR Director, Tanya Cantrell, felt the Job Fair went “absolutely great” and hopes that it will become an annual event. She stated that they received several great applicants with exceptional qualifications. Ms. Cantrell also said, “The students were amazing. One student said that the event really opened her eyes to everything available.”  

...today I think my prayers have been answered -- I'm pretty sure I have one job offer coming, and maybe even a second one. Thank you for this job fair.


Angela Ryan, Assistant Director of the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation, agrees. “One of the goals of the BEDC is to assist in bringing meaningful employment to Bastrop’s citizens, and we feel an annual job fair can serve as a conduit for that. I’m very happy to have been a part of this collaboration; working with the City of Bastrop, the Chamber of Commerce, Bastrop ISD, Workforce Solutions, the Rotary Club and other organizations, has been a great experience, and really shows what can be accomplished by working toward a common goal.”The Escoffier School of Culinary Arts was one of many post-secondary organizations there.

Mrs. Gilleland also shared, “Probably the most difficult part about organizing this first Job Fair was getting employers from outside of Bastrop to consider our workforce and what we have to offer. For instance, when calling companies to solicit participation, I was surprised that one company located less than 100 miles away asked me, "Isn't Bastrop a retirement community?" It seems we do a good job advertising our tourism and quality of life, but outside of the immediate vicinity, some folks are unaware of just how vibrant and alive Bastrop is. We sent out our demographic information, and then we hosted a "lunch and learn" for participating employers -- after that, I could sense the employers getting excited that Bastrop's workforce might be an untapped market for their needs in the central Texas region.”

We were approached by numerous employers and jobseekers sharing their hope that the job fair be held on an annual basis, and we are looking forward to continuing the success of this program and growth in the coming years. If you are interested in attending as an employer, post-secondary organization, or jobseeker, please provide us with your contact information at www.bastropcareerfair.com.