Wild Island Family Adventure Park is readying its water park for the upcoming summer season, which means seasonal positions throughout the park will be made available. General Manager Scott Carothers and his team hosted a job fair Saturday and Monday, hoping to find new employees to join the Wild Island team.
Carothers said the fair allowed attendees to apply for positions in the pool area, such as a lifeguard, and also for various jobs around the park such as food and beverage cashiers as well as jobs in group sales and operational services. Though the count was unofficial as of Monday, Carothers said anywhere between seven and eight hundred applicants came out to Saturday's portion of the fair.
“About 90 percent of it is geared toward our seasonal positions for the summer time,” Carothers said Thursday from his office at Wild Island. “Golf, Raceway and Coconut Bowl keep a year-round staff but they have to put new people in as we get busier. They will be doing some hiring also but they are not going after as many positions.”
Carothers said the park has held similar job fairs in the past usually leading to the hiring of about 300 people. That number, however, will be a little skewed this year due to the Washoe County School District’s scheduling changes, sending students back to school on August 12.
“Even if we don’t have a current position available, we encourage people to come apply because things fluctuate around here all the time,” he said. “We have a lot of people who stay with us for a long time, but some of our staff members are in school and their careers change. And that’s what we are, we are a transition.
“What we are about is giving people skill sets they can take on to better jobs, and we understand the transition that happens and we are OK with that.”
Carothers said the job fair brought hundreds of hopeful applicants to the Sparks location and likely provided an overwhelming atmosphere for some. He said applicants experienced his team's screening process, allowing them to find “where they fit in” and seek a department of interest, and he said the best thing applicants can do is continue seeking their desired position.
“We try to provide an atmosphere where people can come in and put their best foot forward,” Carothers said. “Not necessarily everyone is going to get an interview, but they have a chance to meet somebody and put a face in front of their resume.
“You can get lost in the job fair. It’s called a fair because there is a lot of volume and a lot of things going on. If, for some reason, you didn’t have your best interview or didn’t get an interview and you could only submit your application, then you need to follow up. The people who follow up after the job fair usually are the ones who get the job.”
Carothers said the “initial hire” is the next step for the park after the hundreds of submitted applications at the job fair are reviewed, and then more hiring will come in June or July, once the park is in full swing. He added that applicants who showed great preparation were ones who caught management's eye.
“Like all jobs, you need to practice,” he said. “We are going to ask you questions and we expect you to elaborate further than yes and no. A lot of our people that we hire don’t have a huge resume they can talk about. They won’t be able to go on and on about their successes and failures, but they can talk about themselves and why they think they are going to be a good fit to Wild Island.
“Managers are seeing a lot of people and the average interview is only about five minutes, so we want people to be able to make themselves distinct and be ready to make themselves stand out.”
Shannon Reynolds, who manages the hiring of lifeguards and pool staff, said Monday she was impressed to see the number of young children taking strong initiative on Saturday. She said that although many applicants did not have a decorated resume, she was glad to see many relate their volunteering or club activities to working at Wild Island.
"I think this was a year where we saw a lot of really young people who were super ambitious," Reynolds said Monday while preparing for the afternoon session. "We had kids in suits and ties. A 14-year-old coming in with a suit and tie and a resume that’s pretty impressive."
Carothers and Reynolds agreed that previous job fair attendees may have offered advice to newcomers who were serious about snagging a spot on the interview list. Reynolds said one applicant told her "I will wait here all day for an interview," and she said that enthusiasm is likely coming from parents and teachers who've assessed the job market.
"Ten years ago when I was doing the job fair, that is not what it was like," Reynolds said of her dressed-to-impress applicants. "I think the competition is part of it because these kids know they are going to get in line with 1000 potential people and they are trying to make their mark."