Big turnout for park district's summer job fair
Becket McInerney, 16, knows summer is just around the corner and he’s going to need a job.
“I’m hoping to work with the park district because I prefer being outdoors and I’m hoping some of my friends are able to work with me,” McInerney, of Naperville, said. “This is the first time I’m looking for a job, and I’m excited about getting a paycheck and doing something that’s not boring.”
For the second year, the Naperville Park District held a job fair Saturday morning to find people to fill about 40 mostly part-time jobs at Centennial Beach, Springbrook and Naperbrook golf courses and district parks. Human resources Administrator Janyll Cashman predicted the fair would attract 200 people.
“We had pretty much the same number of positions posted last year and we drew 200 people, but the crowd here this early is more than we expected,” said Cashman, about 15 minutes after the doors opened at 10 a.m. “A couple of jobs like a specialist golf position will be full time, but there will be seasonal and part-time jobs that will run throughout the whole year.”
Director of Recreation Brad Wilson called Saturday’s job fair “a one-stop shop,” offering a number of benefits for both applicants and the district.
“We like this format as it gives people a chance to have one-on-one conversations about jobs, and we get to see if someone will be a good fit,” Wilson said. “It’s true we look at personalities rather than just a resume.”
Salaries posted online ranged from minimum wage up to $12 and $13 per hour. A Centennial Beach manager position pays a $16 to $19 hourly wage.
Cashman acknowledged many of the jobs would be seen as far more appealing than flipping burgers or working at the mall.
“These jobs give people a chance to interact with the wonderful community here in Naperville and be outdoors in the fresh air,” she said. “No one wants to be inside in the summer. And it’s also more fun if you can work with your friends.”
The job fair attracted a wide range of applicants, from first-timers like McInerney to professionals already employed elsewhere to senior citizens.
Britta Dahlberg, 32, of Plainfield, said she works as a teacher at Jane Addams Middle School in Bolingbrook and was hoping to keep busy this summer.
“I just moved here from Chicago and I usually worked at a year-round school, so I’d like to stay busy this summer and work in a summer camp here as the kids’ director,” Dahlberg said. “I like kids and would rather my time off be productive.”
Naperville resident Michael Widd, 65, said he has a pension and is collecting Social Security, but the money isn’t enough.
“This is all about offsetting the cost of being 65,” he said. “I’m just looking to make some extra money to pay the insurance premiums and prescriptions. I’d love to work on a golf course as a ranger. I love meeting and talking to people.”
Andrea Coates, facility manager at Centennial Beach, said she has worked there for 12 years and is seeking people with personality as opposed to credentials.
“The biggest thing I look for is individuals that are good with people as there is a lot of customer service involved here,” she said. “I also hire lifeguards, but that’s something that usually comes later.”
Bridget Curran, 15, of Naperville, admitted she was hoping to get a job as a beach attendant or maybe something in the food service area.
“I’ll be 16 this summer and jobs like a beach position or food are something I think I could do,” she said. “I’m kind of looking forward to the discipline of having to get up, dress a certain way and be at a job. Having some spending money of my own means I’ll have a little more freedom.”
Naperville’s Sean Kudrna, 15, expressed a little nervousness about applying for his first job and said he realizes having a little anxiety is normal.
“I’m also interested in food service and have thought for a long time that working in the food area or a restaurant would be fun,” he said. “I have a friend who worked for the park district last year and he told me to check it out. Everybody is worried that they are going to mess up and make mistakes, but it’s not the end of the world. You learn from them and go on and do the best you can.”
David Sharos is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.