Alaska Travel Adventures has a head start for hiring help for the summer tourist rush.
ATA was one of several companies that pitched the attractiveness of working for them at a recent job fair for Juneau-Douglas High School students.
The company's Gold Creek Salmon Bake hires between 25 and 30 people during the summer, said John Valleho, manager of the salmon bake.
"I prefer hiring the high school kids," he said. Because the school year coincides with the tourist season, "it works out just right."
After a talk about what is expected of employees, about 100 mostly juniors and seniors scoped out possible employers at the high school's tourism industry job fair last week. The students toured TEMSCO Helicopter's hanger, tried on gear at Northstar Trekking, went up Goldbelt's Mount Roberts Tramway and visited and heard from other tourism-related businesses.
"I have a good idea of what I want to do next summer," said 18-year-old Tara Lambert, who hoped to be a driver for Princess Cruises.
Senior Austin Oney, who just moved to Juneau, chose the land option over sea and flight tours because of his interest in local trails and scenery. He said he would apply for three jobs and would hopefully get one outdoors.
In other years, Oney wouldn't have had the chance to see job possibilities first-hand. This year's job fair was a little different because instead of businesses coming to the students, the students went to the businesses.
Normally, the high school's commons area is crowded with about 20 tables during the tourism job fair, but that provides little one-on-one discussion with potential employers, said Paulette Simpson, who organized the business side of the event. The commons-style job fair had about 150 students in 1999 and about 200 last year, she said.
Simpson, local representative for the Alaska Travel Industry Association, said Juneau generated about 2,200 tourist jobs during 1999's summer, the year she polled businesses on the issue.
"This year, we thought it would be more effective if we had it a little more interactive," said Barb Conant, head of the high school's career center.
Students were divided up into smaller groups for land, air or sea-related work fields during Friday's fair. Each group then toured a few businesses and listened to potential employers talk about summer job openings.
Many companies had age limitations for their summer help. Because of insurance and mandatory drug testing, TEMSCO hires only people 18 or older, said Paul Kirschel, the company's lead tour pilot.
Alaska Travel Adventures also has age limitations on most of its jobs, Vallejo said. About the only place hiring anyone under 18 is at the salmon bake, he said.
But age limitations were not going to stop 14-year-old freshman Paul Stephens. He said he was hoping to nab one of few jobs he was old enough for - bus-washing.
"The wash crew is pretty popular among the younger kids," Simpson said.
Mike Hinman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.