Thirty minutes after the doors opened to Fort Gordon’s Army Reserve Center on Tuesday, Jimmy Evangelista had passed a physical fitness test, filled out a job application and was on the brink of landing a new career.
“This is really great,” he said before stepping into a conference room for an interview with the Georgia Department of Corrections. “The ability to go from unemployed to having a full-time job – all in one day – is exciting.”
Evangelista was among job-seekers who were offered a position as a state correctional or probation officer Tuesday at the “Deployment to Employment” Military Job Fair.
Representatives from 16 agencies compiled a list of potential recruits whose backgrounds and qualifications they plan to review in coming weeks in hopes of filling 2,000 jobs in agriculture, engineering, health care, criminal investigation and the highway patrol.
The favorite jobs among veterans and active-duty soldiers Tuesday were with organizations structured like the military.
“It’s about as close as you can get to the military without actually being in the military,” Gary Bell said of working in the Corrections Department.
Bell, a former Army sergeant, came through Fort Gordon in 2004 with the National Guard and left the service in 2006 after a deployment to Iraq. While overseas, he served as the commander of a light infantry vehicle that was equipped with six soldiers and a 25 mm gun.
He now is an operations manager at the Corrections Department, researching and advancing new technology in the prison system to make facilities more safe and secure.
“Just about any job performed in the military prepares for those offered in the civilian world,” Bell said.
Hundreds filled the Army Reserve Center to sell their credentials Tuesday.
“Job-seekers were so prepared and eager to jump into the job search that I ran out of handouts,” said Jenna Saxon, a community outreach specialist for the Georgia Department of Agriculture who had 13 veterinarian and inspector positions to fill. “I was very impressed by the turnout.”
Capt. Henry Vazquez, a Fort Gordon Army Reserve soldier, went straight to the job fair after his morning workout Tuesday to find a public sector job. Now that he is back in his hometown after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he wants to serve his community.
“There is nothing wrong with the private sector, but Augusta’s job market is very competitive and primarily dominated by the health care industry,” said Vazquez, a 2005 graduate of Georgia Regents University’s ROTC program. “The public sector is great for military personnel because we are kind of an institutionalized workforce.
“We need structure and community purpose, and we get that in the public sector.”