Job fair at Grand Canyon School a success

Candy Lopez and Yubiana Jaime talk to Grand Canyon Association staff  about summer employment. Loretta Yerian/WGCN

Candy Lopez and Yubiana Jaime talk to Grand Canyon Association staff about summer employment. Loretta Yerian/WGCN

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - On April 1 Grand Canyon School (GCS) held its first job fair at the school in order to provide an opportunity for high school students to learn what jobs (paid and volunteer) are available over the summer and during the school year.

Students were also able to receive application materials for positions of interest. 

"Many local high school students are looking to get job experience, but in the past there has not been one place for students to go to learn what's available," said Andy Pearce environmental education specialist at Grand Canyon National Park. "The Job Fair is designed to fill this void to the benefit of the students and local employers."  

In addition to offering students potential employment, local companies helped students navigate job search engines and practice resume writing and interview skills.

"I think just learning about the variety of things that go on in the community is really valuable," Pearce said.

Grand Canyon Association (GCA) was offerering summer jobs to students at several of their stores within the park and helping students with their resumes. GCA staff said one reason they like to hire from within the community is the energy and local appeal students bring to the job.

"The energy - it translates in the store and that helps the visitors," said Ron Hurle chief operating officer at GCA. "These kids know a lot about the Canyon already, it's just fun for us, very energizing."

Businesses in Tusayan and the park were represented and were willing to work with the students regarding scheduling.

"We're pretty flexible with that," Yvonne Trijillo, assistant manager at the Tusayan McDonald's said. "We try to pick up at least 20 to 35 people every summer - we do get really busy and we can hire as young as 14."

Trijillo said McDonald's has employed GCS students in the past, although sometimes not as many as hoped.

"We've had a few, probably not as many as we would like to see," she said.

Not having to provide employee housing and the close proximity to prospective jobs is a major appeal for many employers hiring locally.

"I would say we have had the opportunity to interview a half a dozen and offer (students) jobs,"said Laura Kohler human resource manager for Delaware North. "With limited housing, it's a great opportunity for both of us, it's mutual beneficial."

"Living in a national park, housing is always limited," said Meg Rudge assistant director of human resources at Xanterra. "So when we can hire from an existing employment pool then that saves us the housing. We've been hiring students from the school for years now but we've never had a structured opportunity like this, to reach all of them at once."

Both concessionaires were offering positions in food service and retail.

One student interested in possibly working for the park's concessions is Brianna Drake, a junior at GCS.

"I'm (interested) in jobs that I know I'll be able to work and ones that are flexible," Drake said. "There are different jobs here than everywhere else because there is only one Grand Canyon. This job fair is very helpful I was not aware of a lot of these. I'm just seeing what I'm interested in and see what I'm not."

Another student already with a summer job but showing his support of the job fair was GCS senior Trevor Hartigan. Hartigan secured a position with the Forest Service for the summer working as an engine crewmember on a type six engine in Tusayan.

"I'll be working on one of their engines," Hartigan said. "It's my first time - I'm pretty excited. My dad first told me about the Forest Service and then I followed up by going and talking to them."

While most of the summer positions with the National Forest have already closed, Brandon Oberhardt, fire engineer with the Tusayan District of the Kaibab National Forest, said Forest Service representatives were helping students navigate the search engine for USAJOBS.gov, the national website for employment in any federal position.

Other organizations that offered volunteer positions, jobs and future career options included the Grand Canyon Clinic, IMAX Theater, National Park Service - Pathways, National Park Service Search and Rescue, Youth Conservation Corps and the National Park Service.

Around 75 high school students attended.

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