Job applicants began forming lines at Kenosha’s Amazon facility two hours before Wednesday’s hiring event was to begin.
Some dressed in suits and business attire. Others were in casual clothing. From retirees to college students, all came in hopes of finding a job that offered full benefits and a step up from their previous or current positions.
Amazon’s “Hiring Day” event Wednesday drew hundreds of people in search of a job that would pay between $12.50 and $16 an hour. More than 260 job applicants had already gotten job packets one hour after the event started.
The Kenosha job fair, scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon, was one of 10 that Amazon was conducting at fulfillment centers across the country. Amazon’s goal nationally was to fill 50,000 positions. In Kenosha, the company has 1,500 openings to fill, according to company spokeswoman Alyssa Tran.
The job seekers patiently waited their turn inside a large, air conditioned tent for interviews and tours of the fulfillment warehouse. They were served bottles of water and shaved ice treats. To ease the boredom of standing in line, Amazon conducted a raffle throughout the hiring event where job seekers could win T-shirts, Kindle E-readers and Amazon Echos, an interactive audio device.
Some of the job applicants were hired on the spot. Of the open positions, 80 percent are full-time jobs in the fulfillment center, where merchandise is packaged. Most of the part-time positions will be in the sortation center where packages are bundled for shipment.
“We’re hiring because of customer demand. The company has grown a great deal over the past few years. A lot of that growth is driving this hiring event. We’re looking for people to pick, pack and ship,” explained Tran.
Dennis Sandt, 65, retired as a machinist with Snap-on two years sago. Though he’s enjoyed his retirement, he came looking for a full-time job because he wanted something else to do. “I’ll still be able to collect my retirement and work, too,” he said. “I still feel that I can do something.”
Sandy Martinez, 62, of Waukegan, Ill., is happily employed part time at Jo-Ann Fabric in Vernon Hills, Ill., a job she has held for 11 years. But she said she’d like a full-time job to supplement her income.
Kavitha Satish of Palatine, Ill., works part-time near her home. She came to the Amazon hiring event to find part-time work in Kenosha. She does most of her shopping at the Premium Outlets Mall in Pleasant Prairie.
“I’m looking for a job here because I’m more familiar with the area,” she said.
Anthony Freeman, 21, lost his job as a construction worker three days ago. He thought he had come to the right place to find a full-time position.
“I’m looking for work,” he said. “I just came looking for a job out of the sun.”
Nicole Pulice, 35, is a former Amazon employee who came looking for a full-time position picking and packing merchandise.
Theresa Belt, 44, works part time as a gas station attendant. She came to apply for a full time position to fund her return to college. “I like what I do,” she said, “but I want better pay and more of a challenge.”
The positions are expected to be filled within the next few weeks.