Many GRIC members hired on the spot at E&T’s annual career fair

Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


An annual event, hosted by the Gila River Indian Community Employment & Training Department, drew the attention of job seekers looking for employment, through organizations, schools and businesses on-hand. Employment & Training hosted their annual career fair on Oct. 25.


The event also promoted the Community’s census initiative, “We encourage everyone to participate in the census because it means more funding for the Gila River Indian Community and their programs,” said Lana Chanda E&T Director.


According to Elisia Manuel, Outreach/Pathways Coordinator, 13 applicants received job offers with 17 interviewed. Applicants were required to fill out an application and provide it to the employer, who was assisted by a liaison during the interview process.


The total number of individuals, who signed-in seeking employment from the 47 booths present at the career fair, was 247 individuals, 153 of them were over the age 25 and two individuals identified themselves as veterans.


“Goodwill and the Gila River Hotel & Casinos were two of the major employers present to interview and offer interviewees jobs. Goodwill offered four positions as sales associates and casino hired nine individuals for stewardess positions,” said Manuel.


“We wanted to figure out how we can capture the numbers to figure out what peoples’ barriers are to employment, people could voluntarily fill out,” said Manuel. Of the 43 surveys completed, the top three barriers documented in the survey were childcare, no GED and no transportation.


She said, “We want to get more statistics, of how we can help people as a department to obtain employment by offering more resources to the Community and gauge what’s going on out there.

She said it is important to have everyone counted during the census because it funds programs like E&T, that connect participants with training opportunities to prepare them for the workforce. Additionally, individuals were able to do on the spot promotional clips, promoting the 2020 census campaign.


Former E&T participants gave their success stories like Rodrigo Castellon, Database Coordinator with the Management Information Systems department.  “When I moved out here to Arizona back in 2008, from Oakland, California, all I had was a GED. That was all I had going for me, I had no job, no car.”


He said during a visit to E&T, they offered him to join the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) as an intern with their media group Editbox with Reuben Ringlero. He said, “I was participating in all the workshops E&T had to offer, communication, resume building and leadership. The question was how I could apply these skills toward a profession?”


“With the help of E&T staff I was able to apply for student financial aid and the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe, which was right up my alley,” said Castellon. He said for a brief time, he did an internship with a recording studio in Chicago, but a family emergency at home brought him back to the Community, where he became a caretaker for his grandmother.


He said through the loss of his grandmother years later, it was an emotional one, but he knew building his skills with the advice of his grandma, motivated him to seek success. “Life throws you a situation where you are not fully prepared financially or emotionally, but the important part is to persevere through adversity with whatever life throws at you,” said Castellon.


A dress for success fashion show took place, showcasing the latest trends in office fashion. “They are here to show us, what it takes to dress for work. There are studies that show, how a person dresses for work, tells a lot about the person,” said Zephryn Conte, E&T Training Specialist.

Conte said, “The participants modeled clothing, that represents words like intelligence, trustworthiness, responsibility, authority and organization.” All things she said employers look for during the interview process.


Manuel said it would not have been possible without the support of the Community and employee vendors, who set up booths at the career fair.