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Congressman’s jobs fair worked for residents

U.S. Congressman David Scott (right) talks with job seekers and members of his staff during his annual jobs fair at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park Friday.

U.S. Congressman David Scott (right) talks with job seekers and members of his staff during his annual jobs fair at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park Friday.

— College Park resident Octavious Collins and Riverdale resident Alexis Williams got an unexpected surprise at U.S. Congressman David Scott’s (D-Ga.) job fair Friday.

Collins, 20, and Williams, 16, went to the fair figuring they would do some networking and make some connections they could use to get jobs at a later date. They were young and didn’t expect to find many opportunities for work available to job seekers who are their age.

They were wrong. One of the concessionaires at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport hired them to do part-time work.

“When he said I was hired, I was about to cry and I just said ‘Thank you,’ ” Collins said.

Collins and Williams were among the thousands of people who attended Scott’s job fair at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park. By 1 p.m., the Congressman said about 6,000 job seekers had come through to look for a job.

More than 2,000 jobs were available, he said.

“This is tremendous, absolutely tremendous,” said Scott. “We’ve got a lot of companies here. We have 106 employers here and they are collectively saying, and they have committed, that they have a total of 2,006 available jobs that they are looking for.”

Some were lucky and walked away from the event with the ability to say they were gainfully employed. Williams said she and Collins are going to begin work quickly, but they don’t know which restaurant they will be working at. It could be any one from a group of 10 restaurants at the airport.

“We’re going to find out Monday,” she said.

Some job seekers said they came out ahead by going to the job fair, regardless of whether they were hired for a job, because they were able to do some networking. Riverdale resident Stephanie Thompson was one of those people. She said she is already employed, but is looking to make a career change.

She declined to say what field of work she is in, but she said she is looking at jobs with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the City of Atlanta, Georgia Power and the Clayton County Water Authority.

“It’s a new year and I wanted a fresh start,” Thompson said.

She said she hadn’t gone through interviews with any of the employers at the job fair, but she was hopeful something positive would come from the experience.

“I’ve met a lot of nice people, it was very interesting and hopefully I’ve made some good contacts,” said Thompson.

Scott said the job fair was about more than getting people employed or helping them make new career contacts, though.

“It’s an uplifting spirit,” he said. “I’ve been there. I’ve walked the streets looking for jobs. I’ve felt that emptiness. That anguish. That depression and lack of self-fulfillment. I know what it means psychologically. It’s not just having the money coming in, although that helps. It gives you a pep in your step. You’re able to look your wife in the eyes. You’re able to look your children in the eyes.”

And successful job applicants, such as Williams and Collins, said they are planning to take advantage of their new opportunities and use them to their fullest potential.

“Hey, I look at it as a blessing and I’m going to take it, and take advantage of it and have fun,” Williams said. “It’ll give me a positive work experience and experience to update my resume with also.”