Shipyard hopefuls look for long shot at job fair

Glenn Jenne of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard talks to an applicant at the shipyard
Glenn Jenne of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard talks to an applicant at the shipyard's job fair Friday.
— image credit: Andy Jones/staff photo

Matt Grimes' Navy career ended in July, and ever since he has been looking for full-time employment.

While taking classes at Olympic College, the 24-year-old Silverdale resident expected his part-time position at UPS to become a full-time affair. But after the position failed to materialize, he realized despite four years in the service, including three deployments, returning to work for the U.S. Navy might be his calling.

The 35 positions offered for marine electricians at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility Career Fair at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds jumped out at him.

And recently his search for a full-time job got more pressing.

"I have a kid on the way as well so I need to double my paycheck," he said.

Grimes joined thousands more in line Friday, waiting for a chance to qualify for the listed 400 available jobs. And despite feeling optimistic, he was taken back by the number of applications.

"I didn't expect it to be this big," he said.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and continues through Saturday. The number of applicants was on pace to equal last year's two-day attendance of about 12,500 people, said Darcy Jenne, spokeswoman for the shipyard.

That roughly pencils out to about one job per 32 applicants.

Aaron Logan, of Olympia, will be laid off at the end of January and made the drive to the Kitsap Pavilion to try his luck.

But even if he doesn't land a job, Logan, 49, attended a 30-minute session on how to create an online resume. With this knowledge, he hopes to find a new job in a human resources department. Though the fair was bigger than he expected, he was a little disappointed in what they offered in his preferred area of occupation.

"They really don't have a lot of openings," he said.

Tom Smithers, of Sequim, was last involved with the military in 1979, after completing four years of work with the U.S. Coast Guard.

But after a 23-year logging career on the North Olympic Peninsula and 10 months of fruitless job searching, Smithers, 53, is again looking to the military for employment.

He stopped at the booths advertising jobs requiring skills he learned working outdoors, such as welding and heavy equipment.

"I'm looking for anything blue collar," he said. "I've never been unemployed in my life, until now."

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