WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published April 25, 2012, 10:10 PM

Second Chance Job Fair giving some a new lease on life

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - For people with a criminal record, finding a job can be nearly an impossible task. A criminal record often creates a stigma, making many companies consider you unemployable. Today those people are getting a second chance.

For people with a criminal record, finding a job can be nearly an impossible task. A criminal record often creates a stigma, making many companies consider you unemployable. Today those people are getting a second chance. Twenty-four companies are hoping to give hundreds of people a new lease on life.

Nationally, Fargo has the sixth lowest unemployment rate in the country at 4.3%, but that statistic means nothing to these jobseekers.

Cassondra Barry – Jobseeker with Criminal Record: “It's hard, you get the rejection piece a lot. Everyone's like, ‘no, we don't hire felons.’”

Cassondra Barry has been out of prison for three weeks. She served 21 months in Shakopee Women's Penitentiary for a felony assault charge in Otter Tail County. As she walks around this unique job fair, she knows she deserves a second shot.

Cassondra Barry: “It's all about choices and who you are now, and that's in my past and I want to move on and be somebody in my life.”

The fair is not only geared towards felons, but disabled veterans, new Americans and high school dropouts like Josh Williams.

Josh Williams – Dropped Out of High School:” I'm just a kid with no diploma or nothing, so they're not going to pick me if somebody has a high school diploma.”

Williams is hoping for any kind of job. The 17 year-old dropped out last March.

Josh Williams: “It's something I wish I never did.”

Now he's working on his GED and hopes to go to school to be a mechanic.

Josh Williams: “It's pretty cool because it's easier to find a job this way.”

There have been similar events held in Bismarck, but officials say, so many people are hiring, there's no need for these events in the Western half of the state. Bismarck has the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

An entire closet of donated clothing was up for grabs for jobseekers that needed a new outfit, or just wanted to look good for their interview. Applicants were allowed to keep the new attire.

Supporters also helped with filling out applications and producing resumes as some companies were hiring right on sight.

Dave Hohn – Event Organizer: “I think it shows that there is a need in this community that there are a lot of people out there that are willing work, they just need a second chance at employment.”

From Job Service North Dakota to the U.S. Veterans Administration, there were more than a dozen organizations that helped put on the event.

Tags: