Teens Eager to Gain Experience

Teens Eager to Gain Experience

Students, employers enjoy career fair at Chantilly High.

Employer Aaron Urivez (at far right) talks about working at Nando’s Peri-Peri Chicken restaurant while students sign up for more information.

Employer Aaron Urivez (at far right) talks about working at Nando’s Peri-Peri Chicken restaurant while students sign up for more information.

When sophomore Joshua “Shua” Michel left Chantilly High recently, he had a better idea of his summer plans than he did before entering the building. That’s because he got to speak with several employers there during a job fair.

Held March 25, the event was sponsored by Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield), in partnership with the Connection Newspapers and Fairfax County Public Schools. The available jobs included full time, after-school, seasonal and volunteer positions, as well as opportunities for internships.

Joellen Broubalow, director of Horizon Day Camp, watches happily as a student fills out a job application. 


“I want to get a job this summer, but didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said Michel “I was a lifeguard last summer, but I want something different.” The two employers that stood out to him were Merrifield Garden Center and Horizon Day Camp.

“At Merrifield, I’d either work with plants, be a cashier or do loading – for example, putting mulch into customers’ cars,” he said. “And at Horizon Day Camp, I’d work with younger children as a counselor. It’s for kids with cancer, and their siblings, and my uncle recently passed away from cancer.”

In addition, since computer science is Michel’s field of interest, a County Park Authority representative told him they might be able to find an internship for him in that area. Happy that he attended the job fair, he said, “Kids don’t have much of an idea what the job possibilities are, so this opens their eyes to some of their choices.”

Meanwhile, Aaron Urivez of Nando’s Peri-Peri Chicken talked with students about available jobs at the restaurant’s Mosaic District, Reston, Springfield and Alexandria locations. Pleased with the strong turnout, he said 30-40 people came to his table within the first hour alone during the 2-1/2-hour event.

“We’re hiring for both front and back-of-the-house positions,” said Urivez. “So we’re looking for food runners, cashiers and greeters in the front and people to do food prep and cooking in the back. We’ll train anyone to cook, as long as they’re willing to learn. We want to potentially help people change their lives and grow with us as well.”

Also there was Taunya Roberts, the restaurant’s senior manager. “We’re open to first-time job candidates and we’re excited about youth who want to start their career in the food and beverage industry,” she said. “We brought lots of brochures, explaining how they can explore with us.”

At another table was Joellen Broubalow, director of Horizon Day Camp at the Pozez Jewish Community Center on Little River Turnpike in Fairfax. Delighted to participate in the job fair, she said, “I’m a teacher and I’ve enjoyed meeting kids passionate about our mission and motivated. It’s a really fun experience.”

Horizon provides one staff member for every four campers. So, said Broubalow, “I’m looking for people interested in working with kids and bringing the joys of childhood to them and their siblings with cancer. And since we’re a free camp, we’re also passing out information about our walkathon and our programs to help spread the word so we can continue to make this camp happen.”

Junior Zoe Jones came to the job fair looking for an internship she could do during her senior year. She was especially interested in “writing jobs, things having to do with books, nature or horticulture, or analyzing data for the government.” So the jobs available at Merrifield Garden Center caught her eye. She said the job fair was “a good idea because it lets students know what jobs are out there and helps them get in touch with employers easier.”

As for freshman Shasin Timalsina, he came “to see what I should take in school for my potential career. I’m leaning toward the medical field, but I visited the Marines and Navy representatives and went exploring everywhere. It’s good to have this because, in school, you’re not connected to the real world. But here, you can see real-life jobs, plus stuff you can do around your community.”

Junior Ananya T. is an engineering student in the Chantilly Academy, so she “wanted to see if there were any internship opportunities in software engineering.” And Gateway fit the bill.  

“It has a summer internship where you can get work experience,” said Ananya. “You need to know a bit of Java [computer-programming language] and would apply it there.” She, too, liked the job fair because “some of us don’t know how to transition from going to school to being in the workforce, so it was nice to see all the opportunities.”

Gateway co-founder MaiLinh Ho said it’s an educational company providing “upskilling and internship matching. Upskilling is training high-school and college students to improve on their professionalism and all the skills that make them employable and successful in their internships and beyond. We help set them up for success early, and we match them with healthcare, tech and business companies to work in digital media, research products, software engineering and medicine.”

Calling the job fair “amazing,” she said Chantilly’s was “particularly great” because students as young as middle school came. “They’re young minds eager to gain experience, and their parents were here supporting them,” said Ho. “We love to help students improve their local economy and empower them to find internship opportunities in their own backyards.” 

Another employer, Misha Horbunov of High Sierra Pools, talked to students about becoming lifeguards. “We manage several pools in this area and need to hire as many lifeguards as possible,” he said. “Our business is growing, and we have multiple places with pools needing lifeguards. They must be at least 15 years old and have swimming experience, and we’ll train them in pool skills, CPR and using an AED [Automated External Defibrillator].”

“It was great to have this [event] today so we could tell people who we are and what we do and could give them information about our flexible schedules,” he continued. “This let people know we exist.”

There, too, was Kwon’s Champion School from Centreville. “We offer training in several different martial arts,” said teacher Alex Lalos. “And we’re looking for teens, age 15 and up, to help with our summer camps and after-school care positions. At summer camp, they’d help supervise kids during games and crafts and help with field trips to, for example, Chuckie Cheese, laser-tag and rock-climbing places. After school, they’d help kids with their homework when they’re not in their martial-arts classes.”

Also thrilled with the job fair, Lalos said, “We got more people visiting our table today than last year and got some good candidates. I was very impressed.”

Supervisor Herrity was also pleased with the turnout. “We had more than 50 vendors and at least 600 kids,” he said. “There’s nothing more rewarding than helping someone get their first job, and this gives our students an opportunity to interact with employers in a low-pressure environment, surrounded by their peers.”