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Gainesville Job Fair Attracts Hundreds Of Hopefuls

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Job seekers make their way from table to table, meeting potential employers at the Gainesville Job Fair. The annual event took place at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Multipurpose Center. Ebony Johnson/WUFT
Job seekers make their way from table to table to meet potential employers at the Gainesville job fair. The annual event took place at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Multipurpose Center. Ebony Joseph/WUFT News

 Anquinita Quinn would rather be working as a massage therapist, but she would settle for a  job at Pizza Hut, Reggae Shack or Lowe’s Home Improvement Center.

She was one of the hundreds of hopefuls who made their their way around the Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Center Tuesday morning for the annual Gainesville job fair.

Quinn, 26, went to massage therapy school but never completed her certification. Since then, she has worked in the food industry, ranging from catering companies to fast food places.

But she lost a job recently, and her savings have dwindled.  So Quinn decided the best way to land a job would be to seek potential employers in person rather than on the computer screen.

“It’s only been one month but it feels like forever,” she said. “I need to get something soon.”

Anquinita Quinn sorts through her job applications deciding where she will apply to first. She is one of hundreds of people who attended the Gainesville Job Fair Tuesday morning. Ebony Johnson/WUFT
Anquinita Quinn sorts through her job applications deciding where to apply to first. Quinn, who lost her job last month, is one of hundreds of people who attended the Gainesville Job Fair Tuesday morning. Ebony Joseph/WUFT News

“I’m tired of food now. I would like to go back and do massage, that’s my passion, but now I just really want to work somewhere that has benefits,” Quinn said. “I’m looking to start a family soon.” 

 There has been a slight bump in those looking for work in Gainesville over the past few months. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate has risen from 4.3 percent in April to 5 percent in July. 

Gwendolyn Saffo, interim director for the city’s Office of Equal Opportunity, said since the city began hosting the fair more than a decade ago attendance has skyrocketed.

“It used to be an internal event only for city departments, but about three years ago we started hosting external vendors as well,” she said. “We’ve had as many as 1,200 participants attend our job fair.”

Over 40 vendors ranging from local businesses to city departments participated.  The fair is now sponsored by partnerships among the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, Santa Fe College, Gainesville Regional Utilities and other local companies.

“When the economy was down, there weren’t many job openings, but even during that time we knew we could assist people by helping them update their resumes and talking about how they can start a career,” Saffo said.

Guests at Tuesday’s event were also able to attend a free resume writing workshop.

Even though Quinn left without an official offer, she believes she’s headed in the right direction.

“I handed out a couple of resumes and was told to call to set up an interview. It’s not exactly what I wanted but, hey, it’s something,” she said. “If I can get a good job, I can finish my certification and open up my own business. That’s my dream, it always has been and I don’t think it’s too late.”

People looking for work can go to www.employflorida.com. for opportunities.  An exact date has not been released for next year’s Gainesville job fair.

About Ebony Joseph

Ebony is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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