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Career Fest event teaches inmates how to seek a job

January 23, 2004|By Robert Simmons

To the editor:

Recently a great event was hosted at the Maryland Correctional Training Center, which brought together prisoners and outside employers at an annual mock job fair, known as Career Fest. The event helps to prepare prisoners to obtain a job upon release. It introduces them to fundamental job search skills needed to better aid in the transition from prison to the outside world.

The mock job fair is a voluntary program offered each year to prisoners nearing their release date. It begins with a training program in which each participant learns how to prepare a rsum, fill out a job application, and respond to interviewer questions.

This preparation is a prelude to the actual day of the interviews, the main activity. The purpose is not for the companies to make job offers, rather it is that they act as professional recruiters from real firms in order to expose each participant to the interviewing process.

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This year, two interviews were scheduled for each participant during the course of the day and each received important feed- back on their performance. Between interviews they visited a resource center set up to provide information on other transitional help available. These included representatives from Hagerstown Community College and the Department of Labor. In addition, various seminars were conducted throughout the day with titles like Conflict Management in the Workplace and Trends in the Computer Industry.

Organization of the event was spearheaded by Mary-Kay Rath of the Maryland State Department of Education in cooperation with several departments within DOC. The employers that participated were many and deserve great praise, as it is their willingness to participate that made the event possible.

Overall the event was a wonderful success; a perfect example of what can be accomplished by cross-department cooperation and by support and participation from the community.

The ultimate and final result being that the prisoners who leave here, and have paid their debt to society, are now better prepared and equipped to rejoin that society as contributing members.

Robert Simmons
MCTC No. 258-191
Hagerstown

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