Need a job? Your local school district probably has one.


TAMPA – Bryce Booth had no idea he might be interested in working for the Pinellas County School District.

The 34-year-old military veteran showed up at a job fair at Steinbrenner Field on Thursday looking for a career that would make him happy, rather than the sales job he’s been in lately. He visited the stands of Massey Services Pest Control and Mister Sparky Electric.

Next, school district recruiters Joseph “Jay” Noelien and Andrea Schannen caught Booth’s attention.

The pens are ready for applicants at the Pinellas County Schools booth at Thursday’s career fair. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

As the largest employer in Pinellas County, they told him, the school system offers all types of work, from mechanic to bus driver to teacher. And these days, like other districts in Florida and across the country, “we have tons of jobs available,” Noelien said.

Hence their presence at the event in Tampa on a Thursday morning. Getting potential applicants to show interest – even if this is only a handful – is a step towards better service to students and their families, who have recently seen late bus trips, long lines. cafeteria waits, unstaffed classes and more, they said.

“There are people coming. It’s good,” Noelien said, inspecting the large room lined with recruiting tables for other employers in the area.

Schannen spoke to Booth about the possibilities of becoming a teacher through an alternative certification, an idea that intrigued the Gibsonton resident. Pinellas has dozens of full-time teaching vacancies, as well as a continued need for substitute teachers which has prompted the district to temporarily increase his replacement salary by $ 50 per day.

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“It never really crossed my mind,” Booth said. “I thought about teaching but never knew how to get there. “

He handed recruiters a resume, filled out an online contact form, and took the next step.

Schannen noted that many job seekers were unaware of the wide range of employment opportunities offered by the district. A woman with an accounting background smiled and said, “I’m not a teacher,” as Schannen waved to her. An older man who was looking to quit management but still wanted a full-time job shrugged and told Noelien, “I don’t think there is anything that’s right for me. “

In fact, the neighborhood had plenty of them. After offering a thorough pitch on the options, Noelien convinced the older man to take his card and think about driving a bus.

Other candidates plus some made their way to a computer station at the back of the room, where they filled out applications for much needed cafeteria and bus assistant positions. Some expressed disappointment at not being able to get a job right away.

“I guess I have to go back to the internet” to complete the process, said Terry Harmer, a 56-year-old St. Petersburg resident who recently quit her daycare job and was hoping to leave the salon. “I need health insurance and I need room to grow.”

But the school district couldn’t move that fast on Thursday, Schannen said. “We are dealing with students. We have to check the background and make sure people want to be with our kids. “

It made sense to Jennifer Beagle, a teacher who moved to the area a month ago after 13 years in the Cayman Islands. She had previously applied online for Pinellas District, but wanted to attend the career fair to meet someone in person.

“Online seems so distant,” said Beagle, 43, explaining that it’s easier to get a feel for what an organization is from the people who make it up. “I like the atmosphere.”

Due to low attendance at Thursday’s event, everyone who approached recruiters received personalized attention and advice. Noelien encouraged everyone to apply even if they are only slightly interested as different jobs pop up frequently and once in the system they would be closer to the job.

People arrive at a career fair at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.  Inside, Pinellas County School recruiters offered a variety of jobs with benefits as they worked to fill a large number of vacancies.
People arrive at a career fair at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Inside, recruiters from Pinellas County schools offered a variety of jobs with benefits as they worked to fill a large number of vacancies. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

In addition, he said, the district would have more people to turn to to meet its needs. Nowadays, it is not that easy to find workers for some of the important jobs, he observed, citing as an example how his local restaurant IHOP no longer stays open 24 hours a day because it does not. not enough cooks and waiters.

So recruiters weren’t worried about the slow influx of visitors during the four-hour event, one of many the district saw looking for employees. Rather, they applauded everyone who showed up and signed the interest form or completed the application.

“It means we didn’t have that person before,” Noelien said, calling it a step in the right direction.

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