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Taking the drama out of finding a job

Photos and Story by

Sandy Shaner

Sandy Shaner

More than 40 employers and hundreds, maybe even a thousand, job seekers could flood into Portland Community College’s 12th annual Cascade Job Fair on Tuesday, May 5.

In the tough economy, the fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Physical Education Building gym, Cascade Campus, might be a turning point for many. The event, which is free and open to the public, certainly was just that for Sandy Shaner in 2008.

A few years ago, the 52-year-old bookkeeper for a media production company was laid off after 15 years of service. She then got divorced and endured a nearly three-year custody battle for her son. Needing to get back work, she joined Project Independence in the winter of 2008.

"Something was going to have to change," she said. "For somebody like me, who is new to having to go out and look for a job because I have always worked, it’s very frightening to be out of work. To be honest, when I lost my job I thought, ‘oh I’ll get another job.’ But I couldn’t even get an interview."

Project Independence is offered through the Cascade Campus Women’s Resource Center. The program offers single parents, displaced homemakers and women returning to college an avenue to take advantage of its tuition-free classes. It provides information and access to a variety of educational and training opportunities to become economically self-sufficient.

"I went to school 35 years ago and the idea of going back to school was petrifying," Shaner said. "What do you do now? Where do we go? They help you gain confidence. Project Independence helped me get that jumpstart I needed."

Job Fair Attendees Toward the end of her stint with Project Independence, she was recruited to take part in Dress for Success, thanks to the hard work of Tanya Maldonado, a student employment specialist at Cascade. The organization provides women in need with a free outfit for a job interview and, if they get the job, they get another free outfit, which are donations from local Portland retailers. Through her work at Dress for Success she discovered the career center at Cascade would help her with her résumé and found out about the Cascade Job Fair.

"I thought this was a great resource," Shaner said of the center and the fair. "I have never ever been to a job fair in my life. Tanya, bless her heart, not only did a business r

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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