Hungry for work

Hundreds of job seekers attend Krispy Kreme and UnitedHealthcare job fairs

Lauren Badour (left), a 17-year-old Butte College student, and 17-year-old Fairview High School student Jessica Ellis were among the many unemployed people lined up for Krispy Kreme’s all-day job fair on Jan. 8.

Lauren Badour (left), a 17-year-old Butte College student, and 17-year-old Fairview High School student Jessica Ellis were among the many unemployed people lined up for Krispy Kreme’s all-day job fair on Jan. 8.

Photo By christine g.k. lapado-breglia

Hundreds of job seekers—some sporting highly polished shoes and freshly coiffed hair, and many of them unemployed—turned out on Tuesday, Jan. 8, at two job fairs held by Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and the major national health insurance company UnitedHealthcare.

Many of them showed up at both fairs.

Krispy Kreme’s fair, which lasted from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., took place inside the empty building at the end of Business Lane that was vacated by the internationally known doughnut maker only a few years after opening its doors in 2003. Krispy Kreme has a Chico grand opening planned for Jan. 29 after it hires 70 people—“full- and part-time team member[s], production specialist[s] and shift supervisor[s],” according to a Krispy Kreme press release.

UnitedHealthcare’s job fair ran from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at its Chico location on East 20th Street.

People chatted on cell phones and sipped coffee as they waited outdoors in the chilly morning hours in a never-ending line to get inside the Krispy Kreme for a chance to secure an interview down the road.

“I want to be working, and I think that I’d be good at helping create a friendly atmosphere,” said 24-year-old Jacob Maier, who had emerged from the building after speaking with a recruiter. Maier, who is seeking a cashier position, is unemployed after losing his position as a grocery clerk two weeks ago, a job he acquired after being downsized from his previous job in the farm-equipment-manufacturing industry.

“All they asked me was, ‘Why Krispy Kreme?’” Maier said of his time with the Krispy Kreme representative. “I choked. I can’t remember what I told ’em, I was so nervous.” Part of Maier’s nervousness, he noted, was attributable to the fact that a woman from TV’s Action News had her camera aimed at him while he was trying to answer the question.

“People have different agendas,” Maier reasoned, affecting whether he had a good chance of being hired. “They might want to hire someone because they’re a pretty girl or a handsome man. If I was a business owner, I’d be giving people opportunities. I would want someone who was honest, hard-working; I wouldn’t just want lip service, you know.”

“I know jobs have been really hard for people to find in Chico,” offered Cherie Higgs, an upbeat, 23-year-old unemployed woman, who joined the snaking line with three other unemployed people. All four were at the Krispy Kreme job fair as part of Butte County’s Alliance for Workforce Development program, and were planning to attend the UnitedHealthcare job fair immediately afterwards.

Indeed, Higgs and her crew ended up in the long, snaking line to go into UnitedHealthcare’s job fair to obtain information on openings for customer-care and claims positions, as did other familiar faces from the Krispy Kreme event.

One of those familiar faces was a man who had recently lost his job as a driver for his ailing mother after his car was totaled after being rear-ended.

A middle-aged woman in line named Lynna Mandernacht had arrived in Chico from Ashland, Ore., after losing her job as a docent/researcher for the Ashland Historic Railroad Museum. Mandernacht, who had also come over from the Krispy Kreme job fair, expressed mild frustration after being told at the Krispy Kreme fair that she would not be considered for an interview until she completed a personality test that would be emailed to her. “I think I have some personality, so I’m OK,” she laughed half-heartedly.

Pam Jamian, site director for Chico customer care at UnitedHealthcare, emerged from a closed door at one point to greet people in the ever-growing crowd, informing them of how things worked—that job seekers would be taken into another part of the building periodically in groups of approximately 30 people and given an hour with a UnitedHealthcare recruiter and members of the organization’s management staff in order to learn about the jobs available, as well as about the recruitment process and how to apply.

“We have over 100 [participants] so far,” Jamian told this reporter. Tuesday’s job fair was “part of a larger recruitment process to hire 115 [people] that began last summer—and we’re about 60 percent finished with that. Today, we have 30 openings. …

“We think we have a unique position in the community to offer them a full-time job with a national corporation that includes a robust training program and full benefits … [including] health, 401(k), paid vacation and many discount programs.”