Chicago Urban League's job fair draws thousands

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thousands of people attended Wednesday the Chicago Urban League's Citywide Job Fair, one of the city's biggest job fairs, at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.

A diverse crowd of people at all career stages attended the fair, where some people were hopeful about job prospects. About 6,700 people registered online for the event.

Job-seeker Shamika Ford, who had her 6-year-old child in tow, just finished a four-day job-hunting course with the Chicago Urban League and thinks she might get be close to getting a job.

"Ok, they are taking a look at my resume," said Ford, a 31-year old nursing student, as she left the Advocate Health's booth. "I felt that I answered the questions in the order that they asked precisely, and I feel they are going to give me a call back. This is real."

Over 100 employers were represented at the fair, some even hiring on the spot for entry-level jobs.

However, others were focused on the long-term with the help of Jobcase, a social media platform that helps participants find their "thing."

"Right now, those 6,700 people are live in a group on Jobcase speaking about how to succeed at the job fair," JobCase CEO Fred Goff said during the job fair. "How to bring resumes, what you should dress like, how you research companies, so they come more prepared, the community supports each other."

Goff was joined by Andrew Wells, of the Chicago Urban League, the organization's director of workforce development.

This is the fifth year of the citywide job fair and it was about a third bigger than it was last year.

Many people at the job fair already have jobs and expressed optimism about the workforce.

"There are opportunities, they are hiring people, especially if you want to switch a job or profile. People are supportive of that, that's perfect," said Ankur Kulkarni, a UIC masters of industrial engineering student.

As free headshots were taken -- to underscore the job-seeking theme that you are your own brand - some people talked about better days ahead for them

"Yes it definitely feels hopeful, a lot of people have reached out to me and gave me their numbers and things like that and also set up interviews," said 21-year old Dante King, who is looking for a job in customer service.

Goff, Jobcase's CEO, said the optimism is based on facts. "For the first time we are starting to see wage stagnation budge and we see wage growth go, hopefully that momentum continues," he said.

Audrey Donson, a childrens' services professional, came to the fair to figure out her next professional step.

"To come here to find something even greater than what I am already doing and to be able to explore and to have opportunity to explore (that's good)," she said.
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