CRESTVIEW — Kevin Hull wants to become a law enforcement officer. Mara Inghem is open to any challenging career. And Dustin Gillespie wants to move on from flipping burgers.
They and about 300 other job seekers have a better idea about local opportunities following Wednesday's Career Source Okaloosa/Walton North Okaloosa Veterans Career Expo.
Hull, a 2013 Crestview High School alumnus, said while a law enforcement career interested him, he never knew specifics about the field until he met with Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office recruiters.
“I didn’t know there were so many special units,” he said. “They all sound so cool to me. I just thought I’d go on road patrols.”
The expo, which featured 40 vendors, was open to any area resident, though 11 veterans service, health and benefits organizations were available.
Walton County Corrections Institute Officer Mark Bird said agencies such as his welcome veterans, whose training makes them well suited to a law enforcement career.
“The veterans make a difference,” he said.
Dustin’s brother, Brandon Gillespie, an Air Force Reservist, joined him in browsing the variety of recruiters.
“I just got off active duty,” Brandon said. “I make enough (money) but I want more.”
Recruiters included Lowe's, Cox Communications, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Gulf Power, Eglin Federal Credit Union, Asurion, Wal-Mart, Waffle House, Aerotek and Mobile Aerospace Engineering.
Educational opportunities included Northwest Florida State College, Troy University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University.
“I saw a whole lot more companies than I expected,” Inghem said. “I’ve never been to a job fair. I thought I’d just pick up brochures. I never expected to talk to any recruiters.”
Job seeker Linda Moser, who discussed technical career opportunities with Aerotek recruiter Jeff Terrell, also said the Crestview job fair exceeded her expectations.
“The Crestview fair (was) a lot better than the one in Destin,” she said. “It just had a lot of fast food (employers).”
The expo had lower attendance than last year's, but that's to be expected, CareerSource Okaloosa-Walton business service representative Anne Shaffield said.
“As the unemployment rate declines, it’s a natural thing” to have fewer job seekers at career fairs, she said.