Dream job fair for East Bay youth who love the outdoors
By Lou Fancher
For Caroline Roberts of Moraga, the ideal summer involves jumping into a canoe or hiking up a hill in an East Bay regional park. Adding a pack of kids from an urban community who’ve rarely — if ever — had access to Bay Area nature and outdoor activities and calling it a job is even better.
It became possible last year at a youth job fair sponsored by the East Bay Regional Park District.
“I wasn’t 100 percent sure of the jobs the park district was offering, so I went to the fair. Everyone was super helpful. I found out recreation leaders get to go hiking, camping, biking, canoeing,” said Roberts, 18.
“I got good tips about how my resume should be formatted on a single page, spelled correctly; how to write a cover letter, and send a follow-up thank you after an interview. It’s definitely worth going to the fair,” she said.
After a summer working for the park district, the 2017 Campolindo High School graduate is in her first year at Cal Poly majoring in recreation, parks, tourism and administration.
The upcoming fourth annual East Bay Regional Park District Youth Jobs Fair on Jan. 20, in Livermore, and Jan. 27, in Richmond, is aimed for people 15-24 years old.
Interactive “a day in the life” workshops describe the activities and skills required to serve during temporary seasons as recreation and interpretive aids, lifeguards, field interns and other positions.
Community outreach coordinator Jaimee Rizzotti said the district seasonally employs approximately 400 youth. Hourly pay ranges from $11.77 to $24.55. Last year, within a week of the job fair, 42 percent of those attending applied for positions. The majority were hired as lifeguards and recreation leaders, while 14 became interns and seven worked as field interns, among other assignments.
Rizzotti rose through the ranks herself — from an internship in 2011 involving acquiring certification for the park’s Tilden Park Golf Course to temporary jobs in outdoor recreation to the permanent position she now holds.
The youth fairs resulted from a 2013 San Francisco State study that showed a job fair would help the park district better engage with youth.
“We have representatives at the fair for all the areas,” said Rizzotti. “(Attendees) find out the basics of group management, which is big for rec leaders. Lifeguards learn new terminology and about the equipment and techniques.
“Our human resources department covers the fundamentals of applying for any job. There’ll be mock interviews, tips. The goal is to give youth the resources they can use anywhere.”
Roberts said introducing young people to the outdoors is the job’s best feature.
“Some of the kids we worked with had never canoed or had boating experience,” she said. “They had no idea park opportunities were so close to where they live. Personally, the coolest thing was having leadership responsibilities, but also getting to hike, be outside and participate.”