JACKSON TWP.: Sarah Shafer of Tuscarawas County’s Mineral City looked like a rose among thorns.
Of the 1,200-plus people who attended a job fair Thursday at Kent State University’s Stark Campus, Shafer was among only a handful of women who waited — some for hours — to get a shot at a job with Chesapeake Energy Corp.
Shafer, 25, said the company advertised it needs people with many of the skills she has learned in her six years with the Ohio National Guard, especially the year she spent hauling heavy equipment in Baghdad as a sergeant.
“I might not look like it, but I can lift a lot. The military has given me the ability to do just about anything,” said Shafer, who said she felt comfortable behind the wheel of the big rigs she drove, hauling tanks during her service in the Mideast.
“Chesapeake is known for hiring people with the military,” she said.
Shafer was among hundreds of veterans at the event Thursday who were counting on their military experience to give them an advantage with the energy company that is the biggest player in Ohio’s shale gas boom. The job fair was an opportunity to put the corporation and job seekers together.
“The workforce in Ohio is well qualified and has shown great promise at past open-house events that we have held here. Chesapeake has extended job offers to hundreds of locals and plans to continue to grow by hiring Ohioans,” Mark Matusick, Chesapeake’s corporate development manager, said in a prepared statement.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon Lake, said in a phone interview Thursday he proposed the event with the company to give out-of-work veterans a foot in the door.
“Service members who risk their lives protecting our nation shouldn’t have to wonder whether or not they’ll be able to find a job when they leave the service. Today, many of our veterans face an unacceptably high unemployment rate,” Brown said. “Job fairs like these can help Ohio veterans and workers find new employment opportunities.”
Brown said his focus is on two concerns: making sure “Ohioans get these jobs” and to see the company’s exploration into Ohio’s energy reserves for natural gas are “done safely in terms of fracking, water quality and injecting.”
Not all the job seekers Thursday were veterans, and not everyone who hoped to land a shot at a job was an Ohioan.
Jake Peterson, 29, a self-employed landscaper, said he was disappointed after traveling from Minnesota to attend the open house.
“I spoke with a company representative two weeks ago who said they would conduct interviews today,” he said. The company, however, only accepted applications, unlike an event he attended several months ago in North Dakota.
“I think they were overwhelmed by the number of people here,” he said.
Peterson thought he had landed a job with Chesapeake several months ago “on the spot” while attending a job fair, where he was interviewed and passed a drug test. The company asked him to begin training in another state within 24 hours of the interview, but he said he was unable to go.
Benefits are strong
Peterson said he regrets letting the job offer slip through his fingers.
“The benefits with this company are incredible. The 401(k) match is 15 percent — that’s golden — and health and dental care are hard to handle on your own,” he said.
Thursday’s event was an opportunity for the company and many of its subsidiaries to find people who possess the skills the company is looking for in 10 varied positions, mostly laborer jobs. Interviews will come later, said Pete Kenworthy, Chesapeake’s manager of media relations.
Officially, the company said its representatives saw 1,200 people. Security officers provided by the township, however, said as many as 1,300 people had passed through the University Center’s doors shortly after the job fair began at 9 a.m. Some job seekers said they waited in lines for up to three hours to speak with recruiters.
Closer to home
Veteran Jason Greegor, 40, who retired from the military in December 2010, wore a white shirt and tie in an attempt to impress recruiters, dressing, he said, as he would if he had landed the kind of job he is seeking in management.
After serving two tours of duty, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan, the Pickerington, Ohio, resident said he has been commuting to Charlottesville, Va., where he is employed by the Department of Defense at the National Ground Intelligence Center. It’s a 14-hour round trip every 2› weeks from his home to his job, he said.
“He needs a job closer to home,” said Belinda Greegor, who waited in line with her husband.
“That’s why we’re here,” Jason Greegor agreed.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or email@example.com.